In front of a home crowd, "Fanga" Dan Woolhouse slid back to the top of the D1NZ Championship leaderboard last weekend, with a well-deserved win at the highly anticipated Whangarei street event.
Known in the past for its bumper-busting clipping points and impervious barriers, it was great to see the new venue has stayed true to its roots and remained extremely unforgiving.
This was proven by the fact that seasoned veterans such as Mad Mike Whiddett and Cole Armstrong failed to make the top 16, losing early in the day.
With the well-known Red Bull/Speedhunters RX7 on overseas duties, Whiddett was piloting his 20B turbo-powered Mazda RX8, dubbed BADBUL, for the round.
After completing an impressive qualifying run with a transmission that didn't see much past first gear, the Mazda lost its only battle of the day - and its rear bumper.
Finishing first in qualifying with an impressive 85 points, former D1NZ Champion Fanga Dan Woolhouse kicked off the top-16 proceedings by making quick work of last year's Pro- Am series winner Cam Vernon, whose impressive first-round chase saw mere millimeters between the two.
That match-up was quickly followed by a controversial top-eight head-to-head with newcomer Zak Pole, in which both drivers spun on entry after Zak's R33 Skyline brushed the wall, almost making contact with Woolhouse's Commodore.
Although the judges first awarded the win to the newbie, a formal protest from the Castrol Edge team forced them to review the battle via video footage.
After an arduous 20 minutes of deliberation, the decision was reversed in favour of Fanga Dan.
This sent him into a top-four battle against another LS2 V8-powered machine, Andrew Redwood's Series 4 Mazda RX7.
The resonance of the two bellowing GM V8s sliding their way around the tight track really was a sound to behold.
The pair of highly experienced drivers put on one of the most entertaining spectacles of the day, until Redwood spun the RX7 on the last corner of the first run.
Unable to force a mistake from the home favourite in the second run, Woolhouse proceeded on to his final encounter against Nico Reid of the South Side Slyders.
As Reid's Luxury Sports S15 Silva took the first corner inches from Fanga Woolhouse's rear bumper, the entire crowd was on its feet cheering for the first-time finalist.
Undoubtedly backed by the most vocal group of supporters at any given drift event, the South Side Slyders were in full effect.
Reid did his supporters proud, putting up a valiant battle in search of his first-round win.
In the end, local hero Fanga Dan's years of experience proved too hard to surpass and the newcomer was written into the D1NZ history books with his first podium finish in a creditable second place.
D1NZ and Motorsport NZ have stepped it up another notch and ran a well-organised Far North event.
It's a long way from the memories of 2009, where a tractor had to be placed on the final corner to stop drivers crashing through the barriers.
The podium looked rather different from the first event, with new drivers at the top of the table and a fresh course at Mt Maunganui on the agenda early in the new year.
The next round is shaping up to be a pivotal point of the 2012/13 season, and is certain to be one not to miss.By Shane Conza