The penultimate round of the Link ECU D1NZ National Drifting Championship has just one hometown driver who wants to win, Jaron Olivecrona.
The Feilding drifter is a regular at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon hosting drift days for the Manawatū Car Club. While the facility was initially built for circuit racing the proliferation of drifting in New Zealand has meant the circuit is often home to sideways action.
This weekend the D1NZ circus rolls into Manfeild for the penultimate round of the 2018 championship. The circuit is a staple of the calendar that has been part of the schedule since the series started in 2003.
Drivers will compete and be judged on their line, angle and style by three judges. Battles see two cars complete a lead and a chase run across the designated drift section. The winner of each respective battle proceeds through a battle tree of top-24, top-16, top-eight, semi-final and a final.
Olivecrona is a well-known name in the Central North Island for his drift days. With so much track time under his belt, he heads to the circuit with high hopes.
“I’m pretty confident because I get to drive the track so often,” Olivecrona said.
“With it being my home track I am pretty comfortable when it comes to drifting the circuit.
“The goals are always high. I really want to see this car get a podium finish this season and to have it at my home track would be massive for us. A podium is always where we’re aiming.”
This season Olivecrona debuted a brand new engine package. The Nissan Silvia S14 that he drives originally comes from Japan fitted with a factory-built four-cylinder engine, but this year he decided to shoehorn a custom-built five-litre V12 into the drift weapon.
The powerplant came out of a Toyota Century, but was given an extensive overhaul by none other than engineering ace Nelson Hartley, brother of Formula 1 driver Brendon Hartley.
Olivecrona’s Silvia is the first competition drift car to be fitted with a V12 engine in the history of the series. Revving to over 10,000 rpm and making nearly 600Kw, the car has quickly become a crowd favourite.
With three rounds completed this season and an extensive testing programme underway Olivecrona believes this weekend is his chance to shine.
“The reaction has been massive. We’ve run the V12 at Manfeild and it really seems to like that track and likes to rev high,” he said.
“I’m pretty excited and hopeful that we’re going to do quite well this weekend. It took a few rounds to really get dialled in and get it to where we wanted it to be. The car is really good. I’m loving it.”
The fourth round of the calendar will see over 70 drifters across the Pro and Pro-Sport Series compete over Friday and Saturday.
Olivecrona will contest the highest division of the series, Pro. There he’ll face stiff competition from four-time champion Gaz Whiter, and former champions Darren Kelly, Cole Armstrong and ‘Fanga’ Dan Woolhouse.
The level of competition has reached new heights this season. Woolhouse brings with him a brand new Ford Mustang, which was built in the United States of America by Vaughn Gittin Jr.
Armstrong comes into this weekend leading the championship and is the reigning champion. Factory-backed Nissan driver Darren Kelly sits second in the standings.
Olivecrona said he knows it’s going to be a tough slog, but getting onto the podium would be hugely rewarding.
“I think the competition is going to be pretty hard as it always is at this level of drifting. Those guys have been doing it for a long time and they can do things with their car that are pretty crazy.
“It would mean a lot to get onto the podium. It’s not just me who has to put in the effort to get the car there. For the whole team and how much time they spend on the car, it would mean heaps to see a smile on their face.”
The fourth round of the Link ECU D1NZ National Drifting Championship takes place at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon over April 20–20. For more information visit D1NZ.com or NZXMS.co.nz. Tickets are available via iTicket.co.nz.