Cole Armstrong has been crowned the Link ECU D1NZ National Drifting Championship Drift King for the second straight year in a thrilling grand finale.
The V Energy-backed driver took victory again, this time behind the wheel of his Nissan Skyline R34. Last year Armstrong dominated in his Skyline 250GT, but in 2018 proved consistency was key as he took out the title in the car he began his career in.
The title win means he will fly to Ireland later this year to contest a round of the Irish Drift Championship courtesy of Link ECU.
Armstrong said the second win was just as sweet as the first, especially given he’d managed to win in his old work horse.
“It feels phenomenal,” Armstrong said.
“This year hasn’t been the easiest. We still strived hard and we put a lot of time into the old girl. We proved that it doesn’t really matter what chassis you’re in, you can win a championship.
“I’m super wrapped to be able to show that with an awesome team like I have we were able to get it. What a feat. I’m so stoked!”
There was drama throughout the first few stages of the final with championship contenders taken out of contention.
Matty Hill from Australia was an early casualty having come into the round third in points. He bombed out after he dropped two wheels off in the chase and then hit the back of Dave Steedman in the top-16.
Carl Thompson took out another title hopeful ‘Fanga’ Dan Woolhouse after two One-More-Time battles. They went to Sudden Death. Thompson had a significant bobble on his switch and Woolhouse ran offline and dropped a wheel off, but ultimately Thompson was judged the winner.
Armstrong’s title chase nearly took a dive after he and Shane van Gisbergen came to blows. The D1NZ veteran clipped the back of van Gisbergen after the series returnee switched late and slowed up.
Fortunately for Armstrong, he was given a reprieve when the judges couldn’t ascertain fault due to both drivers errors. The call was made to make a decision based on the running up to the incident. Eventually that went to a One-More-Time battle after extensive deliberation.
In their OMT Armstrong narrowly got the better of van Gisbergen after the Supercars champion made a few mistakes.
The drama continued and this time is sent the organisers into points scoring situation overdrive. Underdog Benjamin Wilkinson took out Darren Kelly in the top-eight phase.
With Kelly out of contention Armstrong had to make it into the final four.
That he did with a win over Cody Pullen-Burry, who failed to make the grid when the team couldnt repair Cody’s car in the 5 minutes allowed , which was followed by victory over Wilkinson.
That didn’t alleviate Armstrong’s nerves, however.
“We knew that even if I got into the final the math was that close,” he said.
“I didn’t really want to work them out. I just wanted to focus on trying to win.”
Armstrong went into the final against pole sitter Gaz Whiter, but unfortunately he couldn’t do the double. Armstrong was beaten by Whiter following a few mistakes.
With three second place finishes, the title win was Armstrong’s. Only seven points separated Armstrong and Kelly in the title race, with Whiter back in third.
“Seven points between me and an ultimate friend, Darren Kelly, I’m just so happy to be a part of it with such an awesome family and team here.”
Armstrong said he will return in 2019 with hopes of becoming a three-time Drift King. There are also plans working in the background between Armstrong and Kelly and their teams for the forthcoming season.