Tauranga's Cole Armstrong is a top-ranked driver and a two-time defending champion - and he's hoping to make it three at the biggest drifting competition in the southern hemisphere this weekend.
Armstrong is among several Tauranga-based drivers facing off in the 2019 D1NZ Drifting Championship at Trustpower Baypark Stadium tomorrow and Sunday.
Other locals competing include Adam Davies and Dave Steedman from Team DSR, and partners Drew and Jodie Donovan from Team DMNZ. They are among more than 60 of New Zealand's best teams and drivers competing.
The event, dubbed "The Summer Smoke Out", is the opening round of a five-part drifting tour, and will feature up to 800+ horsepower entertaining crowds around the country.
The D1NZ Pro-Championship is New Zealand's premier production-car drifting event and since the birth of competitive drifting in 2003, only 10 drivers have held the iconic Pro-Championship trophy.
Armstrong is excited to be competing in front of a home crowd this weekend, piloting his V Energy backed Nissan R34 Skyline, and knows his competition will be keeping an eye on what he's doing.
"The gloves are off, the target's on my back and it's going to be all on," Armstrong said.
"We're excited, we've won here once before and I'd like to do it again. I'm a competitive person, I'm not going to throw it down and let someone walk away with it easy."
Fellow Bay driver, Rotorua's Andy Donoghue is also competing this weekend, in what will be his second national drifting championships.
Last year he had to play catch-ups after missing the first round due to a family tragedy.
The 26-year-old said his results were "not great to be honest".
This year however, he will be at every round of the 2019 D1NZ Drifting Championship, starting at Mount Maunganui this weekend, and is expecting "some better results and some wins", with the goal of reaching the top 10.
The Pro-Sport driver, competing with Team Thirty3, is the only Rotorua driver competing at the event dubbed "The Summer Smoke Out".
Donoghue has been drifting competitively for two years and loves so much about it, especially the "adrenaline and the putting on a show for people". Before getting into it he said he was getting speeding tickets so getting into competitive drifting was a natural progression - and also a safer move for everyone.
He said the high horsepower involved provides plenty of entertainment for the drivers, as well as the crowds, and he is looking forward to this weekend's competition.
Internationally ranked drifting stars include two-time former champion "Fanga" Dan Woolhouse in his V8 powered Ford Mustang RTR, and 2015 title winner Darren Kelly in his RB34 powered Nissan R35 GTR.
Some new faces join the line-up into the Pro-Championship class for 2019, with last year's Pro-Sport Development Series winner Liam Burke making his debut behind the wheel of his Nissan S13 Silvia, alongside his 2018 championship rival Jordy Cole in his Mazda FC RX7.
The specially made custom concrete-lined drifting circuit has been unearthed from the traditional speedway clay, buried underneath the stadium grounds since its construction at the last D1NZ event in February last year.
Qualifying at this weekend's event will start on Saturday evening, with the main competition on Sunday night. The competition will end with a Pyro Company fireworks display.
D1NZ Season Calendar 2019:
The Summer Smoke Out, Trustpower Baypark Stadium, Tauranga, January 12-13.
The Thunderdome, Max Motors Family Speedway, Wellington, February 15-16.
The Chase, Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, Waikato, March 16-17.
The Home of Drift, Pukekohe Park Raceway, Auckland, March 30-31.
The Grand Finale, Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon, Manawatu, April 26-27.
Bay/Central North Island Drivers
Team DSR – Adam Davies & Dave Steedman (Pro Championship).
Team DMNZ – Drew & Jodie Donovan (Pro Championship).
Cole Armstrong (2x NZ Pro Champion).
Kurt Blackie – Pro Sport Driver.
Calvin Clark – Pro Sport Driver.
Alex Griffin - Pro-Sport Driver.
Andy Donoghue – Pro-Sport Driver (Team Thirty3).
Taylor James - Pro-Sport Driver (Central Drift Team).