The Bay of Plenty is buzzing ahead of tomorrow's Cody's D1NZ National Drifting Championship series round at Baypark.
This weekend's event is the third of six which make up this season's Cody's D1NZ National Drifting Championship and the first to be held in the Bay of Plenty.
The Bay has a large and enthusiastic group of local Drifters, led by top D1 Pro class prospect Cole Armstrong (V Energy Nissan Skyline R34) and including local couple Drew Donovan and the country's top female driver, Jodie Verhulst.
Series organiser Brendon White said: "Up until now, enthusiasts have had to travel as far as Whangarei and Feilding to contest Cody's D1NZ rounds." However with the introduction of the Baypark event he has had a lot of positive feedback.
"Everywhere I go down here people want to talk to me about it. It's crazy, the weekend's going to be massive."
This weekend the series comes to them, and Donovan said he couldn't wait.
"Jodie and I have developed a massive group of friends and supporters since we've been down here and it's going to be fantastic to involve them directly in what we do for the first time."
More than 60 drifters and their crews, from as far away as Christchurch, are entered for the event, among them former D1NZ drift king and series points leader Daniel "Fanga Dan" Woolhouse (Castrol Edge Holden Commodore V8), defending Cody's D1NZ champion Curt Whittaker (Autosure 2JZ Nissan Skyline R34), high-profile Red Bull-backed Auckland international "Mad Mike" Whiddett (Red Bull/Speedhunters Mazda RX7) and V8 Supercar ace Shane van Gisbergen (Federal Tyres Ford Falcon V8).
Having been keen to try his hand at Drifting for some time, van Gisbergen jumped at the opportunity offered late last year by friend Shane Allen to contest selected rounds of the Cody's D1NZ championship in Allen's Rattla Motorsport Ford Falcon. V8.
At the first round of the 2012/13 series at Manfeild in October the 24-year-old overcame last-minute power steering issues to qualify for the Top 32, then proved his potential by running established series star Daniel Woolhouse close in his first battle.
Since then the V8 Supercar series race winner has done several practice days at Hampton Downs and though he is looking forward to his second competitive outing this weekend, he is realistic about his chances.
"The more I do the more confident I get but I've still only done one proper battle [against Woolhouse at Manfeild]. The single car stuff is good, but I've still got a lot to learn as far as the battles are concerned."
As well as the third round of six of the 2012/13 Cody's D1NZ championship, this weekend's round at Baypark is also the second of three carrying points for the series' BP Ultimate 98 Triple Crown with round one winner Curt Whittaker leading that category.
Also running with the Cody's D1NZ event on Sunday is the Adenstyres.co.nz FMX Jam featuring New Zealand's top resident rider Nick Franklin and top up-and-comer Mitch McHardy, the Epik Eyewear Model Search, and a Hard Park (car show).
Tickets for the Baypark Tauranga event are on sale on Ticketmaster and there will be gate sales ($10 per adult on Saturday, $20 per adult on Sunday) at the venue on both days.
The two-day event sees D1 and Pro-Am practice and Pro-Am qualifying on Saturday then the Pro-Am Top 16 and D1 qualifying and Top 32 on Sunday. Sunday is the main competition day with the best times for the event being between 11.30am and 4pm.