Trekking it down to Meremere Dragway, NZ Performance Car Editor Marcus Gibson checked out Darren Kelly’s private test day prior to Red Bull Drift Shifters

I received a phone call from NZ Performance Car driver Darren Kelly inviting me to come along to a private test day he had organized at the Meremere drag strip ahead of Red Bull Drift Shifters. Mentioning little more than testing out some extra lock and traction, it was enough to spark my interest and get me along.

Upon arrival we rolled the car off the trailer and Darren wasted no time getting in to warm the car up with a few laps up and down the drag strip getting some heat into the engine and the freshly rebuilt Jerico gearbox before popping the clutch and proceeding to fry the first set of Westlake RS Sport tyres

He then came in for a bolt check and some fresh rubber. This gave us the first look at the new knuckle set-up front and rear.  In the rear, a set of Parts Shop Max 40mm drop knuckles, but it was the front ones that caught my inner automotive-magpie eye. Gone were the chopped-and-welded factory knuckles, and in their place a TDP super angle kit imported from Ireland.

“My old set-up was limited by the castor-arm placement. We had moved the rack forward and spaced out the castor arm but it still limited. The place that I really noticed the lack of lock was the mid section at Mt Smart, I felt like I was sitting on the maximum lock, I wanted to push it further but it felt like it was beyond the level of any feedback and on the point of spinning,” Darren explained.

The TDP kit, which is constructed from billet aluminium, allows up to 70 degrees of lock with no bump steer or tyre scrub. This means high-speed drifting with steering feedback at angles of up to 90 degrees is achievable.

“Everything is able to be adjusted, the camber, castor, roll centre correction, and ackermann. The kit also has a one-piece lower arm removing the castor arm so it allows more lock, the chassis rail is now limiting.”

Darren had dialled in what TDP suggested on the alignment machine, including the six degrees of negative camber up front. First reactions for the feel of the kit were all positive.

“It felt reasonably comfortable to go straight out and be able to place it where I wanted. It was good having the concrete wall there to test with, so I know I can still put it where I wanted. Powering directly to the wall — it was definitely easy to still be able to throw it in and then power off. I think it will be a good test at how precise it is at high speed.”  

With so much adjustment, the team plan to play around and fine tune it ahead of the next D1NZ round at Bay Park Raceway, Tauranga on January 17–18, 2015, which Darren is currently leading the points in, but for now Darren is ready to take on the Red Bull Drift Shifters on Saturday, December 6 on Auckland’s waterfront in Quay Street, where he will line up against a cast of international drift super stars and eight fellow D1NZ Pro drivers. It all kicks off at 11am so come on down and support our boy Darren.

Marcus Gibson

Marcus Gibson has spent his life getting a little grease under his fingernails growing up with a fascination for all things loud, fast, and low. Growing up during the boom of the import scene, the last ten years have seen him work for a few publications, as well as running his own website before taking up a role at NZ Performance Car in 2011. Marcus is as at home with a keyboard or camera in-hand as he is getting dirty in his workshop or at the track, championing that Kiwi DIY attitude.