Summer is back, and that can only mean one thing — motorsport events filled with hot cabins, sunburnt spectators, and a damn fine (there go the puns again) day out for all. January was no different — round 3 of the Drift South series took to the track on Saturday, January 28 at Ruapuna’s Mike Pero Motorsport Park.
Although not a huge change in driver numbers, or names for that matter, the S15 trio of Daniel Currie, Michael Sloan, and Brogan Mooney, ensured the line-up was looking sharp. The round also featured newcomers Neil Lyon and Clinton Williams making their first appearance.
We hadn’t seen the shift to Euros within the New Zealand drifting scene until recently, with Daynom Templeman's 2JZ BMW, so we were surprised to see Ryan Low had garaged last season's S14/R32/LS8 combo and rolled out an LS-powered E46 BMW himself — a different experience with the new set-up and torque curve for him, no doubt.
The usual headache and upsets due to summer’s higher ambient temperatures lead to a few radiator and cooling system top-up missions during the mid-practice and qualifying pairing.
Running B track in reverse isn’t without its own quirks either — the unforgiving switching-rise mid way makes for a different monster to the regular format.
Clinton Williams put on a good first chase, sticking like glue to Shannon Halls’ back door, only to be undone on his leading lap with a spin. Similarly for Oscar Potts vs Michael Sloan. Despite another higher scoring run, Oscar slid off, leaving Sloan impressing judges with huge angle over the infamous rise.
Ryan’s new BMW applied pressure to knock out Anna Kempt during top 16 battles, his day ending in the top eight, with Sheldon Kneale taking advantage of the Euros unfamiliar minor grip wiggles, and chasing close.
Neil Lyon was treated to a Scott Welsh smokescreen, with Neil showing good chase form until the last few corners, where some apparent understeer handed the advantage to Welsh.
Top seeded Brogan Mooney appeared to be rocket-powered after peeling off the start line into corner one, leaving Michael Sloan to play catch-up. Sloan, sadly, seemed to lose grip on the deceleration and slid off.
Despite his best lead run effort, it was Mooney to continue, with a later loss against Shannon Hall who drove the pants off his 180 each run — narrowly beating the S15, after it was marked down for going wide on the last corners.
Daniel Currie made his way through the tree with cautious chases on Scott Welsh and Sheldon Kneale. Blind-switching over the rise, Sheldon laid down yet another smokescreen and mirrored well, despite obvious grip-speed differences, but experience excelled and Dan was rewarded for his efforts.
Sheldon fought hard for the podium as Brogan opened the taps and pulled away. Small errors allowed Kneale to catch up into the second corner, and the newcomer continued to rise to the occasion, managing to secure third, ahead of Brogan’s struggling tyres.
This led to a Dan Currie vs Shannon Hall finale. Shannon pushed hard as the S15 pulled away, while the 180 felt the heat and struggled to gain further without hitting the limiter, causing Shannon to take a shallower line.
At the end of the battle, the happy West Coaster, Currie, was left holding the trophy.
With three rounds now in the bag, the chase to the finish is on. On March 4, the series will migrate south again to Timaru’s Levels International Raceway for one of the most anticipated tracks of the series.
See you there! — Thanks to Craig Crew for the words, and Tony Crossed for the photos.