Tom Marshall is still confident he can challenge Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship leader Cole Armstrong for the 2016–’17 title, despite making a surprise decision to sell his car ahead of the final round.
Instead, Marshall will drive the purpose built Demon Energy D1NZ Toyota GT86 at Pukekohe Park. He said the chance to drive the GT86 will give him a good taster
“I get a chance to drive a car that I wanted to build, which is pretty mean,” Marshall said.
“It’s a bit of a bummer that I’m jumping into a new car for the last round. I might pick it up quick, I might not, who knows.”
“I’m pretty confident now, but I’ll know after Friday practice how confident I really am. I’m ready for it, bring on the challenge!”
Marshall’s D1NZ career has been spent solely in Nissan chassis’. This year he campaigned a Nissan Silvia S15 and took his first win at Feilding’s Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon in the second round of the series.
He intended to sell the car at the end of the season, but propositioned at the last round, he sold the Silvia.
Marshall will join an elite list of drifters who have competed in the car. Formula Drift starts Ryan Tuerck, Daigo Saito and Australian drifters Beau Yates and Michael Prosenik have both had stints in the car.
“I’ve never drifted a Toyota or with Wisefab steering lock, so it’s going to be a challenge especially at the fastest track.
“Michael Prosenik, Tuerck, Saito all of those boys drive top $100,000 dollar cars. I’m used to $40,000 dollar cars. It might drive bloody mean in my eyes, but it might not, who knows.”
Whilst the chance to build a Toyota GT86 drift weapon is something he’ll carry out next season, his immediate focus is on this weekend’s challenge.
Marshall is at odds with Armstrong heading the final. With an X-point lead over Marshall, the Evergreen Tyres backed drifter will need a lot to go his way if he wants to win the title.
“I’ve got to win Pukekohe and Cole as to do average. I’ve got to drive like a boss and someone’s got to knock him out quickly.
“If I take it out then that’d just be awesome. There’s still a chance I could win the championship, but as it sits with the points now I’m happy either way. Even with a top-three I’d be wrapped, so either way I’m going to be happy with the result.
“If I take it out then that’d just be awesome. Cole’s got a good lead, so if he carries on doing what he’s been doing the whole season then I’m pretty sure he’ll get it.”
Marshall’s experience at Pukekohe Park is limited. After a lengthy hiatus from the circuit after 2012 many of the series’ newest drifters have only had two rounds at the circuit. However, Marshall said that won’t deter him from giving it 100 per cent.
“It’s a cool track, but it’s pretty scary and definitely is a fast track. The first time I did it everyone was throwing it in at 200 kph and we were going around in practice and found it’s super fast. It definitely got the nerves going!”
There’s a good chance Marshall will have the chance to compete on the circuit for the first time in the dry this weekend. Having only contested the circuit twice since its return in the 2014–’15 season.
After he was knocked out early in the penultimate round of the series at the North Waikato’s Hampton Downs Motorsport Park Marshall faces a tough task to win the title. Marshall won’t lament a title loss, but is happy with his performance so far.
“I’ve got to win Pukekohe and Cole as to do average. I’ve got to drive like a boss and someone’s gotta knock him out quickly.
“There’s still a chance I could win the championship, but as it sits with the points at the moment I’m happy either way. Even with a top-three I’d be wrapped, so either way I’m going to be happy with the result.