Benjamin Wilkinson and his Pak N Save Botany backed crew have a massive task ahead of them heading into the final round of the 2016–’17 Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship at Pukekohe Park.
Pre-weekend practice at the South Auckland circuit was plagued by a string of incidents, but Wilkinson came off worst of all.
Only into his second practice session Wilkinson backed his Nissan Silvia S15 into the wall at turn one, sustaining significant damage.
“It’s been a very tough day in the office,” Wilkinson said. “We went and tried to put a bit more grip into the car, but obviously not quite as much as I thought it had.
“We came down the front straight, went to enter possibly a little later and a little wider than I usually do to try and take a wider line like the judges want.
“Unfortunately, we got to the outside of the track where no one else had been, so there was no rubber laid down. It got a little bit slippery, so once we hit the grass we’d lost everything and the back left hit the side of the car hit the wall.”
Jase Brown was another victim of the fast 200 kph entry to turn one, as well as several other drifters struggling to get to grips with the circuit.
There’ll be a good chance Wilkinson will be pulling an all-nighter before practice and qualifying with a long damage list to mend.
“We bent the chassis a wee bit, both front and rear, and broke a lot of other parts. It’s a big task ahead.
“All the lower arms and suspension in the front are damaged; the rear subframe is bent and cracked, the intercooler is mushed on one side, the piping is buggered, literally the front of the car has moved across 45 millimetres.
Luckily for Wilkinson the D1NZ field has rallied around to support the Auckland based drifter. Just a few hundred metres from the circuit, Brian Roberts have allowed the use of their chassis straightening machine, which will be aided by Joe Kyle from Joe’s Mechanical Services.
Adam ‘Keg’ Maulder from DKM Fabrication is preparing and fabricating front bars as well as mending the wounded intercooler.
Wilkinson said he was immensely grateful for the support he’s received, which he hopes to repay them with a strong result should they make qualifying and battles.
“Hopefully with a team effort and the support of all these guys we’ll be able to make it happen. With any luck when I get back into the car I’ll feel comfortable and the confidence will still be there.
“If we can get the car back out there and going – which I’m confident we will – then we’ll lay down some good qualifying runs.
“It’s been amazing. I’m so thankful everyone has come up and given me support and said I can have this or take that or even use parts for their other cars.
“The amount of support I’ve had come through from the other drivers, from their sponsors, and from workshops in the area is insane.”
The Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship heads to South Auckland’s Pukekohe Park over April 22-23 for the season’s grand final, visit D1NZ.com for more information.