That’s right, the factory Nissan backed R35 GTR of Darren Kelly has confirmed entry into the Honeywell Garrett International Drift Challenge as part of WTAC 2017.

The super talented 2015 D1NZ champion has spent the past 12 months refining the R35 GTR chassis with the help of Nissan NZ and is confident he has a serious weapon to bring into battle at Sydney Motorsport Park in October. We caught up with Darren at his hometown of Auckland New Zealand to discuss his plans for taking on the internationals.

WTAC: Firstly, awesome news you will be coming across the Tasman this year and bringing your insane R35 drift car. Can you tell us a bit about the car?

Darren Kelly: I am really looking forward to be bringing the R35 over for its first international event. It is an amazing chassis straight out the box but we have also spent this season doing a lot of design and development and we have a good list of improvements before heading to WTAC.

WTAC: You have chosen to drop the standard motor in favor of an RB30. What were the reasons behind the engine swap?

DK: There are a few reasons why I stayed with the RB30DET. Because we were building on such a unique platform, I figured we would have to spend a lot of time fine tuning and working on the chassis. Throwing a new engine into the mix would make things more challenging. My team and I know the RB engine inside out and with the 6 speed TTI gearbox, it’s a setup that I really enjoy driving. Not to mention a straight 6 cylinder turbo engine isn’t bad on the ears! But I won’t rule out moving to the VR38DETT in the future.

WTAC: What sort of power are you making out of that RB30?

DK: We are currently making 560kw on 22psi but with our new engine this could change. We aren’t really chasing any more power at this stage as the car is well balanced with the power to grip ratio.

WTAC: You have been in the game for a few years now and driven quite a few different cars, how does the new R35 stack up?

DK: It has been an amazing chassis from day one and since then we have been able to dial it in more and more every time I jump in the seat. The mechanical grip the car has is just amazing. It makes it very fun to drive!

WTAC: The competition is always strong in D1NZ, how do you feel against coming to Australia to go up against an international field of competitors?

DK: I have driven with some of the best in the world and always love the challenge and flat out 100% battles. I’m looking forward to rubbing doors with the best.

WTAC: Who would you least like to meet in final battle?

DK: I don’t think there is anyone who I wouldn’t want to meet in a final, those are usually the best battles and pairing up with one of the best and giving it 110% to put on an epic show is what we are here to do.

WTAC: So tell us about your involvement with Nissan?

DK: Having the support from Nissan has been absolutely amazing. It all started with the me running the idea past them about this crazy R35 Drift car we were building and it really just took off from there! We have already done some cool things and special events with them throughout the busy drift season here in NZ. We big plans in the works that are going to be next-level awesome that I can’t reveal anything just yet.

WTAC: I’m sure you have had a lot of other people help you out along the way, anyone you want to give a shout out?

DK: There is always a huge team behind the scenes and it’s been a huge task to build this car and i couldn’t have done it without the help from everyone. Tim at TTT Auto Engineering with all the fabrication work (and there is a lot of that!), Nan and the guys at The Bling Company for all that rubber, Dodsons Motorsport for the heap of R35 parts that went into the build, TurboSmart for all their top of the line products, OZ Racing Suspension, Link ECU for all computer components, GDS Automotive for keeping it tuned to perfection, Michael Thorley for all the wiring, Kaspa Transmissions for keeping it all serviced, TDP for designing the steering kit, Racer Products for all the OMP and brembo parts, and most certainly my wife Hayley for all her help, Mum, Russel, family, friends for all their support and everyone who has helped us achieve the crazy idea of building an R35 drift car!

WTAC: And lastly none of this would be possible without the help of loyal sponsors.

DK: Definitely a huge thank you to the following brands for all their support to keep the tyres turning:

Nissan, TTT Auto Engineering, The Bling Company, ilabb, Dodsons Motorsport, Turbosmart, OZ Racing Suspension, Link ECU, TDP, Kaspa Transmissions, Racer Products, GDS Automotive, Sikky Manufacturing, TTI Gearbox’s, Motul, Platinum Wheels, Performance Car Magazine, AWS Graphics, Radium Engineering, Random Cool Stuff, Fenix Performance, Epik Eyewear.

WTAC: Awesome Darren we can’t wait to see you shredding rubber in October

DK: Thanks guys, can’t wait to be there!


Check out Darren Kelly’s wild R35 in action in this video: