After three long years of battling councils, residents, resource consents, and abatement notices, the D1NZ team is finally able to return drifting to its spiritual home in New Zealand, Pukekohe Park Raceway.

The problem has been that one resident with a disdain for the sport has basically stopped the show, and it has taken three years of hard work to finally get the go-ahead, which will see D1NZ at Pukekohe for the next 10 years as the only drifting event to be held at the venue.

Auckland City Council are backing D1NZ, and without their support it simply would not have happened. A milestone has been reached with councillors signing the 10-year resource consent.

Although the hard work is not over yet; the much-needed upgrades to the infamous sweeper will now begin. The plan is to resurface from the pit-lane exit right through turn one.

Three years ago drivers were entering the sweeper at speeds around 196kph, but the car development that has taken place will mean some cars, which were once maxed out, will be able to increase their speed to over 200kph. It’s going to be wild, there is no question about that.

Only a handful of the drivers competing this season have battled at Pukekohe, and not a single Pro-Am driver has, so it’ll be a real level playing field, and a daunting proposition entering on the bumper of another car at those speeds.

‘Fanga Dan’ Woolhouse told NZ Performance Car, “Everyone is going to need different set-ups as I think with all the development we have put into these cars over the years, they will have too much down force and grip to actually drift the sweeper. With the set-ups we have now, you would need to go in faster, like 220kph to break loose. The practice day beforehand is going to be real interesting with everyone trying to get their set-ups sorted. When you start getting up to around that 200kph mark you're on the fine line of entering like a metre or two late.” 

Four-time D1NZ Champion Gaz Whiter was another drifter excited about the return to Pukekohe.

“I would say it would be over 200kph, back then we were on 235 road tyres and not on 265 semi-slicks.  We actually put this quick change [Winters diff] in last year in preparation for Pukekohe when we thought we were going there, as the ratios just weren't high enough for the V8. It's going to be a big learning curve on the Friday practice day trying to get it sussed. I’d say there are going to be some big crashes; I hope no one gets hurt, but it's going to be pretty wild.”

Curt Whittaker won last time D1NZ ran at Pukekohe in 2011 and he will be looking to reignite that performance, with the now V8-powered R34.

“It's one of those love-hate tracks — I have had some good runs there winning a couple of times and a few podiums. It's been a good track to me. I began drifting by going to Pukekohe. It's the first track that I ever drifted. Once you overcome the speed factor it's awesome. People are saying your going to be going so fast now, but I don’t think so. There is only so fast that you can go around that corner, just on or just under that 200kms is pretty much the maximum no matter what you are or what your car is. I will be happy with that bit more torque from the V8, it will help on the initiation, but when I tested there [a few months ago], we ended up putting radials on as it had too much grip, because it's an inertia drift you don’t need a lot of grip under you. You are going to find a lot of guys will be taking wings off and trying to set their cars up as it's been so long, and with no one able to practise until the day before that is really going to make it exciting.”

From a spectator point of view Pukekohe has always delivered nail-biting runs, so what better spot to finish the season. Tickets go on sale today from iTicket — make sure you get in fast, as it’s very likely to sell out.

See you all May 23–24! 

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.