Two of the best Link ECU D1NZ National Drifting Championship Pro-Sport Series front runners are looking to move up.
Points leader Liam Burke is on target to take out his first Pro-Sport Series title this weekend at Pukekohe. He leads the standings by a staggering 81 points over nearest rival Taylor James of Central Drift Team.
Burke is yet to finish outside the top two so far this season. With three second place trophies and a win to his name, Burke is the hot favourite heading to Pukekohe Park this weekend.
The Whangarei drifter said he couldn’t have imagined he’d have so much success in his first proper assault on the series.
“I’ve got four of these damn trophies now, it’s pretty crazy,” he said.
“You’d never think you’d go into the D1NZ Pro-Sport Series and get four podiums finishes.”
Burke is hopeful that he can take out the title this weekend and announce a move up to the Pro Series. However, he knows that the step is a big one to make.
While his Toyota 2JZ-powered Nissan Silvia S13 is a front runner in the Pro-Sport Series, more wild and ambitious builds are taking hold in the leading Pro Series. Just last season fellow Whangarei drifter ‘Fanga’ Dan Woolhouse debuted two Ford Mustang RTRs.
“It’s a huge difference between Pro and Pro-Sport. They’re that next level.
“We definitely want to move to Pro next year. Hopefully I can get a little bit more sponsorship backing, but that’s all down to me to work on.”
Burke said his biggest challenge is not so much improving the set up on his car, but himself as a driver. Qualifying has been key for Burke this year and he’s not often been outside the top five.
“Moving into Pro will push me to do even better. Where the Pro-Sport guys are averaging 60 to 70 qualifying runs on points, the Pro drivers are going anywhere from 70 to 90 points.
“That’s the next stepping stone, but I think when you’re in that class you have to perform and you have to learn to perform, especially when it comes to battles. Honestly it’s down to the driver. We’ll have to step up our game.”
Burke’s teammate Scotty Dinsdale won the last round at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon in April. The final battle saw Burke go head-to-head with his Team 13 stablemate, the first time they’ve ever battled in a final together.
Dinsdale currently sits third in the points order just ahead of former title contender Jordy Cole, who failed to qualify in the fourth round due to a mechanical failure.
Following a spate of mechanical gremlins and a crash early in the season, Dinsdale said the move up might hinge on how he goes at Pukekohe.
“Because we haven’t been super consistent with the car changing just about every round, we want to move up to Pro but that’s dependent on how we go at Pukekohe,” Dinsdale said.
“We really want to go to Pro because that’s where we’re aiming. We’ll see how we go.”
Burke said he’s confident his teammate could be competitive in Pro competition despite any doubts Dinsdale might have.
“He actually said to me the other day ‘I might do another season of Pro-Sport’, but he’s got the skills. He’s just as ready as I am.
“It would be cool if we both moved up as a team to Pro. Obviously from this event he’s definitely a contender. He’s smashed it.”
The Link ECU D1NZ National Drifting Championship concludes at Auckland’s Pukekohe Park over May 12-13. For more information visit D1NZ.com, tickets are available via iTicket.co.nz.