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D1NZ Day 2 Speedhunters – Original Cut

A few people asked for this version, so here it is in its entirety.  Photos are smaller as they’re Speedhunters sizing.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nAfter the beautiful weather on Friday, I came back to Taupo Motorsport park Saturday expecting the same sort of weather. Sadly, the day was horrible. We were faced with drifting and time attack runs in the rain, which not only is hard on the drivers but hard on the media and spectators. With the drivers setting up their cars for the rain, the track with its downhill slopes and corners that rely on power, many drivers were worrying how the weather would affect their day.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nPacking all of the drivers into the briefing room, you could see they were all ready to get out onto the track. As some of the Pro-Am drivers practice on the Pro competition day, many drivers were in attendance, even leaving some of the drivers to sit out on the balcony. The front row contains many of NZ’s top drivers, all wearing their team colours.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nOne of the judges Justin Rood goes over the track, pointing out key sections and how they want the drivers to perform. Choosing a racing style, the judges want the drivers to enter the final sweeper corner with an out-in-out method, much like a typical racing path.  With four corners for the drivers to drift, linking all four together is key to get big points.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nArriving half way throught he briefing was local D1NZ media personality BK, after he had a rough hit with Gaz Whiter’s spoiler at the Pukekohe sweeper. Feeling better, he was ready to accept hotlaps from any drivers willing.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nLining up to get out onto the track, the Time Attack drivers are able to get out onto a clean track free of chunks of tyres. With Time Attack being a fairly new race in New Zealand, it’s great to see so many cars being built that are already international standard.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWith the Time Attack drivers heading out first on a clean track, Hans Ruiterman had his E&H Motors Nissan S14.5 out pulling some quick times. Due to the weather, the drivers had to take the track a lot easier compared to normal days.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWith a top Pro competitor and a top Pro-AM competitor, Cam Vernon and Mad Mike Whiddett talked over their cars before heading out to practice. As Cam made the top 3 podium at Pukekohe, he gets the privilege of then being able to practice with the Pro’s on Saturday.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nAs the Time Attack drivers completed their laps, the drifters went out for their first practice run. As the weather cleared up, drivers started to gain smoke, a nice sight after the showers. Mad Mike managed to put his Red Bull Mazda RX7 26b through its paces with smoke simply pouring off the car, linking him through the corners.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nAnother drifter who is used to leaving smoke streams is Cole Armstrong. Back in force with his four door V-Powered Nissan R34 Skyline, he fluently linked the corners on the reverse track. Powered by an RB30DET, he was having a few troubles with his timing belt throughout the day but managed to fix it.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nAnother stand out R34 Skyline driver was Curt Whittaker. His ‘murdered-out’ Skyline won the last round out at Pukekohe and was a big contender for the Round 3 title. As you can see his car loves the smoke and just peels off the rear tyres.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nHeading into the qualifying runs, the track started to get wet all over again. This meant that the drivers had to focus on car control, rather than speed and smoke.  Matt Jackson’s colourful Mazda FC RX7 has some awesome lock coming around the corner, with his tyre pointing right at me.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWith the final sweeper corner being an awkward corner in the wet, many drivers like Bruce Tannock hit the corner a bit hard and found themselves spraying mud everywhere. Luckily the Achilles Nissan S13 Silvia was quickly cleaned off by the rain.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWith drivers stretching their tyres to a crazy level, sometimes they come off the bead. Darren Benjamin hit a problem with his Enkei RPF1’s on his Nissan C35 Laurel which forced him back into the pits to quickly change wheels and qualify.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nAfter the qualifying, the drivers headed back to the pits for the open pits at lunch. Mad Mike attracts fans young and old. With many kids after a signed poster, it just shows how the sport has become an attraction for people of all ages, with some starting out on the sport clearly quite young!\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nWith the Top 32 battling for a place in the Top 16, Matt Jackson and Jason Sellers battled out for a spot. Matt’s FC RX7 with its crazy graphics has amazing lock coming around the corner, staying very close to Jason’s Nissan C33 Laurel.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWith the weather off and on and the day getting darker, it was great to see the battle between Cole Armstrong’s V-Powered R34 Skyline and Bradley Lauder’s S14 Silvia allowing for smoke. For this Top 32 battle, Cole moved through to the Top 16 ‘out smoking’ Bradley.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nSpeaking of getting close, Hugo Maclean decided to get a little too close in his Grab a Tool Toyota AE85 Levin, giving Sky Zhao’s S15 Silvia a love tap. This damaged Hugo’s radiator and forced him out. Sky went onto the Top 16.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nAs the Top 16 lined up, so did the Cody’s promo girls. With some people here for the cars and some for the girls, D1NZ offers a mix of both. In typical Taupo fashion, the track offers a lovely backdrop also.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nAs the Top 16 headed off, we went straight back into the battles. With Darren Benjamin on the chase and Curt Whittaker’s R34 leading, the battle of the big Nissan’s had started.  The stealth R34 of Curt’s never fails to impress with its Toyota 2JZ power.  Curt moved onto the Top 8.\r\n\r\n\r\nInto the battle of Dimitri Amos and Mad Mike, the RX7 of Mike’s pulls through with Dimitri forced to use a friend’s S14 FL Silvia. Mike’s RX7 flooded smoke and make it seem as though the boot itself was smoking.  Mike goes through to the Top 8.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nAs the crowd looked on to the Top 16 battles, the Cody’s girls were armed with a T shirt gun. Firing off Cody’s Bourbon T shirts into the crowd, many spectators found themselves running for the prize, whilst some preferred to watch the girls instead.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nAs the Hachi that could, Jock Bennett’s SR20DET powered AE85 took on the powerful Milwaukee VH41DETT Nissan Onevia of Mac Kwok’s.  However all that power could still not match that of Jock’s nimble AE85. Jock moves onto the Top 4.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nLocal media personality Simon Anderson scoped out the best spot from inside a tyre. Seems safe enough?\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nKeeping close on the chase of ‘Fanga’ Dan’s Castrol Edge Holden Commodore, Gaz Whiter pulled through in his Tectaloy Nissan S14 FL, keeping with Dan the entire way round. Gaz moves through to the Top 4.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nMatching up Daynom Templeman and Curt Whittaker brought on a fierce battle. With both cars running great and both drivers on form, this battle became anyone’s guess. After winning the last round at Pukekohe, many would have put their points on Curt Whittaker for the win, yet with Daynom’s driving skills shining through, we saw Daynom take the win. Daynom moves onto Top 4.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nA battle that many would call one of the best in D1NZ history showed Jason Sellers and Mad Mike neck and neck through every corner, with neither giving up the opportunity at the Top 4 placing. With Mike chasing and Mike leading, Jason was matching every move each time. All of the media guys couldn’t figure out who would take it. After waiting for the judges, Jason Sellers moved onto the Top 4.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nThe battle for podium had begun, with Jason Sellers and Daynom Templeman out battling for their chance at a win. Much like the previous battle, this battle was also neck and neck. With many drivers stating previously that they all thought they had a chance at Taupo, the track is seen as anyone’s on the day with a different winner most years. In this battle, we saw Daynom go through to the Top 2 battle.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nInto the battle of Jock Bennett and Gaz Whiter we were faced with the little Hachi not being able to keep up.  Although both powered by the same engine, the little AE85 had a tough time battling on. Gaz moves onto Top 2.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nBetween these two cars we have two opposite engines. Jason Seller’s Laurel is running a 2JZ engine, whereas Jock Bennett’s AE85 is powered by an SR20 – a battle of conversions. The battle took a quick turn with Jock’s little Levin being able to move nimbly through the corners which the big Laurel struggled with.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWith Gaz Whiter and Daynom Templeman now placed up against each other, the battle between the three time champion had begun. Both cars come quickly into the first corner, keeping tight throughout. Daynom matches every move Gaz makes.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nMoving onto the podium shots, the media all lined up to scope out the winners. Game face on.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nIn the Time Attack round we saw Hans Ruiterman come out on top with a time of 1:13.69, with Scott Kreyl in second place and James Parker in third. Not ones to stick around for photos, the boys got straight into the champagne showers.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nIn the Pro-Am time attack, Leon Scott pulled through on top with a time of 1:15.413, Daniel Currie came out with second and Kat Benson in third.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nWith the Pro-Am D1NZ drivers announced first, we had Cameron Vernon in first, Vincent Hopkins in second and Shane Poulton in third.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nOnto the Pro drivers, in the last two battles we saw Daynom Templeman take out his first D1NZ win, Gaz Whiter in second and Jock Bennett in third.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nJust as the rain started to kick in, the boys hopped into their cars and did some victory burnouts.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nNot one to waste time, Mary Brown (Manager of Cam Vernon) quickly gets onto updating Facebook with the good news.\r\n\r\nWith Taupo over for another year, we are next onto Round 4 D1NZ at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland.  This track is known as being a close circuit which often destroys cars.\r\n\r\nPhotos and Words – Chris Smith –\r\n\r\n 

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