Drew Donovan takes first pole position in tightest qualifying to date

  • Written by D1NZ Admin

Only one point split newlywed Drew Donovan and D1NZ Pro Series points leader Darren Kelly in qualifying for the penultimate round of the 2018 season.
Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon hosted the second-to-last round of the Link ECU D1NZ National Drifting Championship. The Feilding round remains one of the longest running events in the 15-year history of the series.
Despite having missed the first round of the series in Wellington, Drew Donovan sits 10th in the standings. It’s the first time he’s taken pole position in the series, a feat he said has been a long time coming. The top qualifying position comes only two weeks after he married long-time partner Jodie Donovan (Verhulst).
“It’s not an easy thing to get anywhere near the top in qualifying because you’re up against a field of really talented guys and girls,” he said.
“I’ve kind of hand it as a plan obviously. You always want to go P1 every round, but I said it as this little goal at the start.
“If nothing else I just wanted to take that number one spot in qualifying and I’m pretty chuffed that I have.”
Earlier this season Donovan won on his return to the championship at his home round inside ASB Baypark Stadium. He said Saturday is going to be a big task to tackle if he wants to win his second round this year.
“You’ve got to take everything as it comes. Qualifying is done now, but the battles are a whole ‘nother challenge.
“I’m certainly not getting ahead of myself, but we couldn’t turn back after taking the win at home in Tauranga.”
The qualifying was punctuated by some of the tightest scores ever seen in D1NZ history. First through to 12th were split by just six and a half points.
Second place qualifier Darren Kelly blitzed the course on his first run and hit all the right points as he poured smoke from his car. An 85.5-point run sent him straight to the top to take provisional pole position.
However, his time at the top was short lived. Donovan’s first run put him just one point ahead and to the top where he stayed.
Team Jenkins Motorsport drifter Ben Jenkins threw a cat amongst the pigeons with one of his best runs of his recent career. The Aucklander launched to third equal with Andrew Redward. The judges were impressed by his aggressive switch that saw him score high in style.
The run was made even more impressive given the uphill battle they’d raced to get the car even running for qualifying following a clutch issue. He eventually slid to 11th following the second passes.
Ben’s brother Troy Jenkins got his first competitive run in the Toyotaz Galore GT86 at the second-to-last round of the series. He qualified 18th on 76-points.
Championship leader Cole Armstrong was wild in his first run. The reigning champion was nearly backwards through turn two, but he was marked down for a bad line and eventually ended the first round outside the top-24.
Fortunately for him a safe by strong second run netted him 12th.
After getting onto the podium in round three, Benjamin Wilkinson threw down a solid first run to go third with a smooth line that excelled in angle and style. His second run was even more impressive and shifted him up the order to third.
Daynom Templeman was surprisingly uncompetitive. He was lucky to proceed to the top 24 after a 72.5-point run got him 24th, just ahead of Stuart Baker.
By the end of the competition the judges said there was little to split the drivers on. Most excelled on angle, however, the line was what let many drivers down. Ultimately it was the first 10 metres of Donovan’s run that counted for the extra point that got him pole position.

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 or Tickets are available via

D1NZ Pro Series, qualifying results top 10: 
1. Drew Donovan – 86.5
2. Darren Kelly – 85.5
3. Ben Wilkinson – 84.0
4. Adam Davies – 82.5
5. Dave Steedman – 82.0
6. ‘Fanga’ Dan Woolhouse – 81.5
7. Gaz Whiter – 81.0
8. Andrew Redward – 80.5
9. Cody Pullen-Burry – 80.0
10. Matty Hill (AUS) – 80.0

2018 Link ECU D1NZ National Drifting Championship calendar:
Round 1: Wellington – Max Motors Family Speedway  – 12-13 January
Round 2: Tauranga – ASB Baypark Stadium – 16-17 February 
Round 3: Timaru – Levels Raceway – 9-10 March 
Round 4: Feilding – Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon – 20-21 April
Round 5: Auckland – Pukekohe Park – 12-13 May  

Feilding's favourite drifter hoping for hometown advantage

  • Written by D1NZ Admin


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 or Tickets are available via

Third time's the charm for Pro-Sport title hopeful Liam Burke

  • Written by D1NZ Admin


After finishing runner-up in the opening two round of the 2018 season, Northland’s Liam Burke has finally got his first win in the D1NZ Pro-Sport Series. 


Burke defeated round two winner Jordy Cole in a rematch of their final Baypark battle. This time in Timaru, however, Burke took the top spot.


Burke said he was stoked to finally get a win under his belt following the two second place finishes in Wellington and Tauranga.


“I’ve been waiting for this moment, we’ve been trying so hard to get there,” Burke said.


“There’s still a few threats out there so I’m definitely not relaxed heading into the final two rounds. But having the points lead now is huge for us, its massive.”
It was an impressive comeback for the Team 13 drifter who by his own admission struggled in qualifying to lay down a high scoring run. 
It was an uncharacteristically low scoring run that put him 10th in the order on Friday and meant he had to face some strong opposition to get through to the final.


“I was having really good runs in practice, but when I got to qualifying I cooked it. I don’t know what happened. I just went out and it felt like crap.


“I ended up qualifying 10th so I really had to step my game up for the battles. But we managed to pull through and everything went my way.”


Burke got the best of David Hunter in their top-16 battles, but the top-eight battle against Kyle Jackways was especially tough. Fortunately, Burke got the win and proceeded through to the top-four against Kurt Blackie.


Burke managed to stretch his legs in a battle that took place on a readjusted circuit following a track breakup during the other top-four battle.


He was especially stoked too given his finals rival Jordy Cole took pole position by 14 points over the nearest opponents a day earlier in qualifying.


It’s been an impressively quick climb to the top for Burke who debuted his Nissan Silvia S13 in the Pro-Sport Series last year at the second round in Feilding. 


However, with two rounds remaining and a title on the line, Burke said he’s not afraid to step up to the Pro Series if he takes out this year’s championship.


“I’ve got heaps more to work on. You look at the Pro drivers versus the Pro-Sport drivers and it’s another level above. I’d definitely make the move up to Pro, but it would be a tough transition.”


Burke leads the title standings by 51 points over round two winner Jordy Cole heading into the fourth round of the series.


The Link ECU D1NZ National Drifting Championship moves to Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon in Feilding over April 20-21. For more information visit or Tickets are available via
D1NZ Pro-Sport Series overall standings:
1. Liam Burke: 275 points
2. Jordy Cole: 224 points
3. Taylor James: 207 points
4. Callum Neeson: 173 points
5. Kyle Jackways: 169 points
6. Ra Heyder: 158 points
7. Jesse Greenslade: 134 points
8. James Steele: 127 points
9. Scotty Dinsdale: 123 points
9. Kurt Blackie: 123 points
2018 D1NZ National Drifting Championship calendar:
Round 1: Wellington – Max Motors Wellington Family Speedway – 12-13 January 2018 (Day/Night Event)
Round 2: Tauranga – ASB Baypark Speedway – 16-17 February 2018 (Day/Night event)
Round 3: Timaru – Levels Raceway – 9-10 March 2018 
Round 4: Feilding – Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon – 20-21 April 2018
Round 5: Auckland – Pukekohe Park – 11-12 May 2018 – Grand Final