Dargaville's Gary Whiter claimed an unprecedented fourth D1NZ National Drifting Championship, winning under lights at Mt Smart Stadium.
Heading into the gala grand final round held under lights in front of a 6000-strong crowd on a fast, unforgiving, temporary course Whiter was by no means guaranteed the title.
It was always going to be a battle between the Northlander, in his V8-engined Nissan S14, and high-profile Auckland-based drift international "Mad Mike" Whiddett.
For Whiter it was relief when he clinched the final podium spot, ahead of Whangarei's Dan Woolhouse, but he felt for his friend and long-time rival Whiddett.
"It was a big relief, though in saying that it still wasn't over," he said after Whiddett was knocked out earlier in the competition. "Curt [Whittaker] was still in there and I still had my own battles to complete.
"Obviously, I still wanted to get a result too, get on the podium."
To that end Whiter won his top 16 battle against top Auckland driver Zak Pole, then his top eight encounter when Andrew Redward spun on his chase run, only to finally meet his match when he came up against a rampant Daynom Templeman in the top four.
It was close but Templeman was on a roll, Whiter sealing his own fate with a half spin on the last left-hand corner of the drift section. "When you are in the moment it is hard to make quick decisions and I made a wrong one," Whiter explained. "It was as simple as that. Daynom's car pumps out so much smoke that you can't see a thing and you have to almost guess where you are going to turn."
Templeman went on to win the round, and in the process record the highest ever qualifying score in drifting history.
Whangarei's Woolhouse finished the round in fourth place, and fifth overall, after being last year's defending national drift champion.
Also competing in the event was Northlander Tom and Joe Marshall who were competing in the Pro-Am Series.
Tom finished second in the round and third overall while Joe finished fifth overall.