Motorsport: Partners pushing each other in Tauranga

Drew Donovan leads Jodie Verhulst at round two of the series at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon. Photo / Supplied
Drew Donovan leads Jodie Verhulst at round two of the series at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon. Photo / Supplied

No love will be lost between Team Drift Motorsport New Zealand duo Drew Donovan and Jodie Verhulst if the pair come up against each other during the third round of the Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship at ASB Baypark Stadium.

Partners on and off the track, the pair are D1NZ's power couple. Verhulst believes their drift fueled relationship pushes one another to perform, but she hopes to take the spoils on the banked walls inside Baypark Stadium.

Jodie is a former D1NZ Pro-Sport Series podium getter at her home track in Tauranga. In 2013 she was battling outside the stadium in the car park, however, this year the D1NZ circus moves inside Baypark Stadium for the drifting action.

Verhulst said she's looking forward to having the hometown advantage and seeing what the tight stadium style track has to bring.

"It's always good having a home turf run, but Baypark this year sounds like it's going to be off the charts and be pretty good," said Verhulst.

"We did pretty well down in Dunedin on that sort of close contact type of track. I'm expecting high things from Drew. I'm just going in with the mindset of having fun."

The Milwaukee backed drifters, Verhulst and Donovan, have remained elusive in their ambition for a finals battle between each other. Verhulst said she's hoping the third round of the series will bring them the opportunity to go head-to-head.

"I'm hoping for it! We've honestly been dodging each other all season so it's been really annoying. That first round out at Dunedin I was so close to getting a battle with him.

"We have some good battles. We don't really hold back which is the other thing, so we're not really afraid to bend each others cars. We probably end up fixing it anyway!

"I think every other time we've sort of been in line to knock each other out in the top-eight. But it's good, we battle really well together so it's not going to be a matter of one beating the other. It's neat we can do that, but we'll see. Maybe one of these days."

Donovan echoed Verhulst's sentiments and said he hopes they both end up in a position where they can face each other in the final showdown.

"I'm looking forward to it, I just hope it's not until the finals," said Donovan.

"Ideally Jodie and I want to end up on the other side of the tree from each other so that there's more of a chance of meeting in the final.

"So if we can do that and both work our way through to the final that'd just be the ultimate with a first and a second. That'd be a full career accomplishment."

Donovan had a tough time at the second round of the series at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon, where he was knocked out contentiously in the closing stages of the few final battles.

He said the defeat means he can go into the forthcoming round of the series with no weight on his shoulders.

"Round two didn't go our way which was unfortunate, but at the same time it just means there's no pressure on me. I'm just there to start clawing back points.

"Winning it is the ultimate goal. I'm definitely looking forward to the track which will be sick. It's something that I've wanted for a long time is to get a home round win - that'd be so good!

The third round of the series will see the series compete on the high banked circuit inside Baypark Stadium, which traditionally is used for speedway racing. Concrete will be laid on parts of the grass turf in similar fashion to the opening round at Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Donovan said the opportunity to compete inside another stadium is something he'll be looking forward to and might even fulfil an ambitions of his to win on home soil.

"It's going to be wicked. Having some bank on the corner is going to be good to mix it up and change things from all the other custom rounds, which are usually on flat car parks or stadiums.

"I'm looking forward to getting a taste of what the Yanks have with their big banked tracks like irwindale. It'll be cool."

- NZ Herald

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