The opening round of the 2015–’16 Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship season is looming, and in sheds all across the nation teams are scrambling to get their cars completed. But for some teams the final spanner checks have been done and its time to get out on the track and shake out the off-season cobwebs before the championship chase begins.
Hampton Downs–based Rattla Motorsport drivers Shane Allen and Curt Whittaker were two of the early testers. Both cars remain basically unchanged from last season, but after big off-season tear downs / rebuilds, and new tyre compounds to test, it was more than just an excuse to fry some tyres and take a few passengers for laps.
With the new Mustang about to be released, the Falcon and its Engine Dynamics–built 468ci Dart block with modified Nascar heads might only see minimal competition rounds this year — but as far as backup cars go, this is certainly topping the list.
The ex NZV8 has been through some serious development since 2012, when it first appeared on the D1NZ grid. Shane is certainly looking more and more at home peddling the green monster. It will be very interesting to see how he can perform in the new chassis when it debuts later in the season.
But for round one at Manfeild, the Gulf Western Oils entry will be lining up as the pre-season shakedown ran without a hitch. We were lucky enough to ride shotgun for a few laps and experience 9000rpm.
Curt Whittaker was also shaking down the ‘small block’ 410CI-powered R34. The car has proven a very strong combination, one that Curt was more than pleased with last season, and thus the team have kept things as they were for the coming season, and will be making a serious run for that championship.
If you ask me, this is one of the best-sounding machines on the D1NZ grid, with fabrication of the highest order.
After making the switch to TDP steering ahead of the final round last year, there is still plenty of development left in the set-up. The only change underneath is a move to OZ Racing coilovers.
The boot space is showing more fabrication, with the alloy tank feeding the water-spray set-up. This is a must for any pro-level car that sees plenty of heat soak during grid time.
Both cars were testing out the Zestino tyres, both the radial and semi-slick versions. All three Rattla machines will be running these this season.
Things don't always go to plan, and I guess that finding out now is a bonus that testing this early out from the the season opener allows. Curt's R34 suffered a heating issue, and the team were thankfully able to diagnose within a few minutes, in between taking staff from naming rights sponsore Autosure, for a few hair-raising laps.
If there is anyone with the credentials to take the championship, it's Curt Whittaker, a man who is hard to beat on any style of track, and one of the most consistent drivers in the field. This being the second full season to run the Rattla V8, and in a chassis he has run since 2010, you would be a fool to not think he is a serious threat. But as they say, anything can happen in drifting, and probably will.
Back in the Rattla workshop, the Mustang continues to take shape. The hardware this car will be packing is serious, very serious. Check out our rundown here. The last few pieces to the puzzle are currently en route from overseas, and the team expect it will be testing mid December.