Tauranga’s Cole Armstrong made his championship intentions clear at ASB Baypark Stadium as he dominated qualifying for the third round of the Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship.
As the sun set on ASB Baypark Stadium the D1NZ Pro Series field began to light up their tyres for a shot at a spot in the top-24. It was clear to see from the outset the Pro Series drifters were stepping up their game as they laid down their first qualifying runs.
Australian import Beau Yates didn’t take his time to get used to the Toyotaz Galore GT86 as he set about launching an attack on the stadium circuit. His first run looked strong, but the judges marked him down on style, which ultimately saw his points score suffer.
His second run saw better results as he leapt to fourth, but still, he was six points behind Armstrong in the lead.
Series leader Cole Armstrong looked to have his hometown track down pat with his first run earning him the top spot. Round two pole sitter David Steedman pressed on hard to take the top spot from Armstrong, but could only manage fourth in his fight for the top spot.
The only drifter in a rotary powered Mazda was local man Ben Belcher. He threw his 13b Mazda RX-7 hard into turn one, with the car almost backwards on initiation. It cost him though as he over corrected and straight lined.
Darren Kelly looked to struggle behind the wheel of Cole Armstrong’s R34 Nissan Skyline. Armstrong loaned Kelly the car after the Nissan New Zealand backed drifter suffered a several mechanical problems a week out from the third round of the series.
Series returnee Andrew Redward was a man on a mission as he chucked his V8-powered FC Mazda RX-7 around the Baypark Stadium circuit. The run looked solid until he threw arguably what looked to be his best run out the door as he spun.
Drew Donovan opted to run in Jodie Verhulst’s 2JZ-powered Toyota Supra after the LSX V8 engine of his Nissan Silvia S15 gave way in early morning practice. He scored a solid result of fifth provisionally after his first run.
By the completion of the first round of runs Armstrong led Nico Reid by a little under five points.
Driving his Nissan Skyline 250GT, Armstrong set off for his second run. Again the Tauranga man stacked on plenty of angle coupled with super style. He didn’t improve on his first run massively, with only a point five margin gained.
Third place sitter Daynom Templeman couldn’t improve on his points run as the trend continued of most setting runs with fewer points.
Tom Marshall continued his charge towards the front of the Pro field as he set a blistering pace to go third on 82-points. He excelled on line with angle and style scoring evenly.
Ultimately it was Armstrong who stood atop the order by the completion of the qualifying session, putting him in the box-office for the top-24 battles on Saturday.
D1NZ Pro Series round three qualifying result (provisional):
1. Cole Armstrong — 87.5-points
2. Nico Reid — 83.5-points
3. Tom Marshall — 82-points
4. Daynom Templeman — 81.5-points
5. Beau Yates — 81-points
6. ‘Fanga’ Dan Woolhouse — 78.5-points
7. Dave Steedman — 77.5-points
8. Adam Davies — 77.5-points
9. Stuart Baker — 75-points
10. Ben Belcher — 73-points