Written in a Kiwi accent by Warren Sare
It’s that time of year again where Adrian ‘Mozza’ Morrisby and Myself ‘ Wazza’ aka Warren Sare, token Kiwi drift MC and grumpy ninja start to get excited. For the diehard fan of tire frying, limiter bashing car ballet, the daytime World Time Attack challenge just gets us warmed up for the main course of Honeywell Garrett Drift Challenge. Don’t believe me, ask any of the 10000 who witnessed last year and made it the best attended drift even in Australasia ever. Throw in the hilarious antics of ‘Dorikin’ Keiichi Tsuchiya and hardworking translator Toshi Hayama and the Australian Godfather of Drift Danny “Denzo” Vahoumis and there is a great reason to stay and party with us in 2017, remember its ok to have a brew or two and soak in the atmosphere and the drift event is included in your ticket price!
This year we have a stacked field taking on what appears a simple but challenging drift course, the beauty in simplicity is that it opens the event right up and right now I think over 50% of the field have a fair shot at winning. It will come down to mastery of low light conditions, bravery approaching turn 1 of the section at around 165kmph, interpreting the judging requests and dealing with smoke screens from the number of 600kw+ cars competing.
So let us introduce you to this year’s field, put together by the hard working Yoshi Abbey
Michael Rosenblatt – Nulon Oils R32 Skyline
We start with the defending champion and the man who should be on every teams radar as perhaps the best chaser in the business. Most agree that very few can place a car quite as precisely on the door of the lead car and rarely make contact or lose momentum. The Queensland based Commodore wrecker has been a force to be reckoned with every year he’s been in the drift challenge and has intimate knowledge of exactly where to place the Nulon backed skyline at every corner. It will take a near perfect lead run and a door banging chase to stop this man going back to back. Rosenblatt is like a pitbull that bites you and just won’t let go.
Shane Van Gisbergen – MCA Suspension 370Z
Perhaps the most eagerly awaited sight of this years HoneyWell Garrett Drift Challenge is ‘the Giz’ in drift mode and focused only on winning that discipline. We know that Murray and Josh Coote can put a car together, we know that SVG is more than capable behind the wheel, and we know that he’s actually had seat time in this car. He’ll be right on the door on chase, and right from early runs we will know if he has got the hang of setting tone on lead laps, if he has then expect him to be a strong contender for outright victory for the first time in a drift car and that is sure to be a sight.
Mad Mike Whiddett- Redbull BADBUL RX8
International superstar, best known drifter on the planet and winner of more trophies than he can count, Mad Mike Whiddett brings a freshly rebuilt RX8 3 Rotor Turbo into battle this year. A quick glance over the car gave us a look at a brand new Wisefab and KW suspension setup, and with a fresh PPRE heart and monster Garrett turbo combo, this car will be quick on sticky Nitto rubber. Mike will be one of the few in the field who knows what to expect from the Saito FD winning car and will be looking to finally hoist the trophy after coming close numerous times. Anyone who saw his recent FD Japan driving knows that he is right on his game at the moment.
Daigo Saito – Monster Energy Lexus
If Mike is the best known, this guy is probably number 2 and was almost universally agreed to be the best drifter on the planet in 2016. This year we get Daigo in a Daigo spec competition car, 1200hp of Lexus that carried him to Formula Drift victory. He has won in Sydney before, and barring a special run or some type of gear issues, expect that Daigo’s door will be the one you need to go through to hoist the 2017 trophy. If you imagine any type of dream final, chances are this guy is one part of it.
Cole Armstrong – Evergreen Tyres R34
The new D1NZ New Zealand champion comes in to the 2017 Honeywell Garrett Drift Challenge in the best form of his life and with some undoubted frustrations from his current China campaign. Armstrong pretty well laid waste to the NZ field this year with his best ever driving, but hasn’t been able to catch a break in Asia so will be keen to get things back on track in the ‘old faithful’ R34 that he honed his craft in. His spotter is his father Bryce who knows this track well and will have Cole dialled in for maximum attack in a car they won’t mind putting a few scratches on.
Alex Sciacca – LinkECU RX8 – 1JZ RX8
Al ‘the shark’ Sciacca provided one of the memorable moments last year when he looped his old machine out on the main straight at 200kmph. Sciacca is getting better and better with more seat time in his new build and is a driver who will be hoping for a strong result in front of local friends and family.
Beau Yates- Toyota Genuine Parts 86- 2JZ 86
Beau the Show is an OG competitor within the field having done more laps of Sydney Motorsport Park than perhaps any other in the field. Expect Beau up at the sharp end of qualifying, he’ll be expecting it of himself and is well known for his calculating and flowing style. The Toyota 86 will have the speed and power to go with the very best in the field and Yates is a strong chance for a local victory.
Ben Meir- Silvia
Local boy Ben is an up & coming driver who is gaining confidence. His V8 S14 is noted as a solid platform and he has been show strong improvements in the local series.
Michael Bonney – C & D Motorworks
The Monster C & D Motorworks S15 is almost a dream parts list for a drift car. Boasting big power matched to aggressive chase game, Bonney is developing his skills and learning to drive a fast car slow. His development and regular seat time has many local pundits picking him as a dark horse in the field and one to keep your eyes on.
Joel Dimmack – Camber Wear
Queenslander Dimmack will bring his well presented Silvia down for his first appearance in the drift challenge. Has been competing regionally and is seen as a developing driver who gets better as he gains more confidence.
Andrew Worth – Drift Jan
Noted as a smooth & consistent competitor, Worth has been away from the scene for around 12 months and returns for this selected event. He’s seen as a quiet achiever and those are often the most dangerous competitors in the field.
Jake Jones – Driftsquid RBM3
The popular ‘Driftsquid’ returns to this years competition after time away building his new BMW with his trademark Nissan RB flavour under the bonnet. Jake has stayed sharp by competing offshore and was recently crowned series champion in the Chinese Red Bull Drift series so will be in the best form of his career in a car that will be making its competition debut. The BMW platform has been proved in competition internationally, it’s now up to the likable South Australian kid to tame it on Aussie soil. The best news in my opinion is that the big hair is back.
Levi Clarke- Exedy Drift Team V8 Turbo Silvia
Queenslands Levi Clarke won Formula D in Sydney 2 years ago and will bring his unique blend of style and aggression to competition. Clarke is another of those drivers who holds nothing back on chase and will happily tattoo your door for you, so the other drivers better be on their game or the V8 turbo power will be put to ground and Clarke will be a distant cloud of tire smoke.
Josh Boettcher- V8 Silvia
Boettchers car needs to be heard and be experienced to be truly appreciated, with the Ian Boettcher race parts monster motor originally calling a speedway car home. The car is fast and angry and Boettcher has years of competition in Australia and Asia under his belt to draw on. He’s one of those drivers who has always seemed to face other top hopes early so this year could well be his year.
Luke Fink- SR20 AE86
What needs to be said about Luke Fink? Perhaps the most colourful and controversial man in the pit paddock, the BMX champion can pedal and is afraid of no opponent put in front of him. This is the one of the few events he’s entered a self-owned car in, so expect nothing but fireworks and flair from Fink in his 400hp 900kg old school machine. Either way its guaranteed he’ll give us some great colour from the pits.
Matt Russell – Toyota AE86
Matty Russell has the little AE86 that could. One of Mozz’s favourites to call and always game to take the fight to new machinery, Russell is almost odds on to give us at least one ‘little car that could ‘ battle win. Russell has had the crowd on its feet before and its known that DK is a big fan of the older 86 chassis.
Matthew Hill – 4mance 2JZ Silvia
Sydney boy Matty Hill will be the ladies favourite and enjoy strong vocal support. Hill campaigned a full season in New Zealand in 2016 and is now a much more experienced driver than when we saw him last. A strong qualifying performance last year had Matty and his team expecting a good result, only for nerves to put him off and take him out early. I’ll call him now as a darkhorse in the field.
Mitchell Jeffery – Mitchell Jeffrey Drift Nissan Silvia
Mitch is another quiet achiever who is noted as a student of judging and as a result tends to qualify well.
Blake Paterson – Origin Labo Nissan Silvia
Long time campaigner who also runs event s and has done judging which will give him a good insight into what is being asked for and expected and he may be a dark horse to turn some heads.
Kristopher Frome- Rob White Motorsport Nissan R34 Skyline
Frome is a driver we have watched develop from the early drift challenges at World Time Attack and he’s come in stronger and with better machinery each time. Coming out of the Rob Whyte Motorsport stables he will be well advised and will be looking to continue to make his mark.
Robert Whyte – Rob Whyte Motorsport Nissan 370Z
Wait a minute….didn’t this guy retire? Well I suppose so did I one or 3 times. There is no better sound in Australasian drift than the Rob Whyte Machine in full flight and this is one car and driver package that has more than the right tools to go all the way. Whyte will remember what happened last year when he took himself out after getting lost in tire smoke and will be looking to make up for it. Expect Whyte to go deep into the competition and be looking to take the silverware back to the Gold Coast.
Brad Tuohy – Team Achilles Toyota 86
Brad Tuohy is another who has got better and better each time he’s appeared, he just hasn’t always had the best of luck and he’ll be hoping this is his year in the distinctive orange Toyata 86. Has been campaigning strongly in the local drift series, so will come in knowing how to battle the likes of Yates, Arbolino and Rosenblatt.
Drew Donovan – Team DMNZ Toyota 86
Doni- D has borrowed the wifes ( Jodie Verhulst) car for this years event, having retired his regular v8 Silvia ‘Arnie’ and being in the process of building a Supra back in New Zealand. Drew is one of those guys who is just there, he’s consistent and holds his own, never backs down and gets the battle wins. Coming into the event this year, the team have been busy adding NOS to the LS engine, and sorting out the Hakon suspension package.
Anthony Bilic – AAA Tyre Factory Nissan Silvia
I don’t know a lot about Bilic other than his car is loud due to him sticking to the ‘old school’ Nissan Sr20DET and driving hard each and every time he’s out on track. I believe this might be Bilics first time in the main show at World Time Attack, so he’ll be looking for a good showing for his local Sydney fans.
Adam Davies – Team DSR Nissan 180SX
558kw of Mazda 13b turbo courtesy of renown kiwi engine builders Green Bros, combined with a snappy 180SX and a never say die attitude make Adam one of those drivers who I think will set the cat among the pigeons at this event. Having just had his best ever D1NZ season, Davies would like nothing more than a maiden win at a huge event and won’t hold back trying to get there.
Dave Steedman – Team DSR Nissan Silvia
Team mate of Adam Davies, Dave Steedman boasts 560kw of Nissan RB power in his S14 and is also coming off his best ever D1NZ season with his first ever event win. Both drivers have attended the event before and observed just how tough SMSP can be at night, and Dave will also be looking to stamp his mark on the drift game at an international level.
Cameron Mote – Link ECU Nissan Silvia
Universally declared the best looking car at last years event, Camo Mote surprised many other than Mozz and Myself by going all the way through to the top 4 in a car that was only finished weeks before. Dad life has been a priority for Camo and he’s appearing at WTAC as one a handful of select events. Mote has all the skills and the machinery to go deep into the event again and may be one of the best hopes for the trophy to stay in Sydney for the first time.
Michael Prosenik – Team SCR Nissan Silvia
‘The Proz’ is a King of Nations drift champion and multiple Australian event winner. His weapon of choice affectionately named ‘Dazza’ is a V8 S13 that will have more than enough go to hang with the very quickest cars in the field and lay a thick smoke screen for anyone trying to chase. ‘Dazza’ can have a mind of his own, and if he’s playing ball then Prosenik will be looking to improve from his best challenge result of 4th and is a real chance at a win.
Adam Monck – Team Tyre BBQ Nissan Silvia
They call these guys Tyre BBQ for a reason, monster power and thick smoke is a hallmark and Monck was the guy who famously went flying off the track last year and didn’t lift resulting in DK Tsuchiya giving him a maximum 10 point impact score.
Carl Thompson – Fat Boy Drifting Lexus
Block your ears and get out you phones, this Lexus is the highest horsepower car in the field just beating out the Saito machine and its screams via a Curran Bros built quad rotor with a turbo on it that quite frankly would look more at home on a truck. One of the coolest things about the Honeywell Garrett challenge is that it allows cars like this to take part and Carl is sure to put on a loud, flame emitting show.
Darren Kelly – Darren Kelly Drift R35 GTR
Kelly’s R35 is factory Nissan backed and is among the quickest cars in New Zealand. When you add in a driver who is the only person to ever win both the development and pro series in NZ, you get one serious package that will be factored into most knowledgeable fans calculations as far as the podium. Darren has a fresh RB engine on board, mated to a sequential transmission so expect him to be among the quickest up the hill and to be right on doors in chase. He’s been open in saying that Mick Rosenblatt is the guy he wants to battle.
Dylan Woolhouse – Dylan Woolhouse Drift Motorsports
Probably the most versatile international sportsman in the field, Dylan Woolhouse is the cousin of 2 time NZ champ Daniel ‘Fanga Dan’ Woolhouse. Much to Mozz’s delight he is also a champion fisherman, international shooting champion and emerging drift talent. Why is that important? Well it means nerves aren’t likely to be a factor for Dylan as he makes his international debut in the V8 Supercharged RX 7 for Link ECU.
Now that you’ve seen the list, try and pick a winner, I bet you can’t. This is easily the closest matched field we have ever had, with most drivers in great form and track experience. Who is the wild card here? Well, it’s got to be the man who invented the sport, the infamous DK Keichii Tsuchiya and how he sees each “Tsuiso”. I can’t wait to see what happens and hear what comes out of his mouth .
See ya when the sun goes down.
Wazza on behalf on #mozznwaz