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Chasing the smoke: driver updates from the 2020 Valvoline D1NZ National Drifting Championship (Feb)

6 February 2020



Regular updates from the 2020 Valvoline D1NZ National Drifting Championship

The 2019–’20 season of the D1NZ National Drifting Championship has seen some of the biggest shake-ups in the series’ history thus far. The Pro and Pro-Sport classes have been split off for the first two rounds to run as separate entities, with the latter on a reduced schedule format to help ease drivers’ running costs. The two will merge back together at Pukekohe Park Raceway for the official round two over 8–9 February, the venue taking on double duty to also host the season finale on 8–9 May. Teretonga has been added to the line-up, and that is where just the pros went head to head to collect valuable seasonstarting points. In the series’ biggest live broadcast deal to date, all rounds will be shown live on Sky Sport and free to air on Prime, part and parcel of running alongside Speedworks Events for three selected rounds, which include the likes of the Toyota Racing Series, GTRNZ, and the Mazda Racing Series. It’s a cracker of a season, and the drivers are stepping it up big to suit. Come with us as we go behind the curtain to bring you the latest updates each issue.

Massive changes for Armstrong
Series stalwart Cole Armstrong has been instantly recognizable for his aggressive driving styling and even more so for the bright green hue that has adorned his weaponry as part of a 10-year partnership with energy-drink brand V Energy. However, heading into 2020, you’ll see a new colour scheme slathered over the panels of Cole’s Nissan G36 panels after he and V parted ways at the conclusion of last season. Now, long-time sponsor Buteline has stepped up to take the naming rights, bringing with it a menacing black, grey, and yellow combo that has recently debuted.

“It’s the end of an era with V. They’ve been awesome for the last decade, but it’s also good to keep moving forward. Buteline has been with us for eight years, and I’m lucky to have had them as a secondary sponsor this far,” explains Cole. “They’ve always wanted to step up, and this was the perfect timing. All my cars have been green, so it’s almost like ‘Woah, what’s that?!’ when you see it. We have a couple of different options to go with colourwise. I’ve also got a new suit to match, being made by Prowear.”
With the new look have come necessary upgrades to the running gear, the biggest of which has been the switch to an Albins sixspeed sequential, sourced from Australia by Ethan at Pro Driveline. The team have also opted to grout the RB30’s block after experiencing issues with bores cracking last season, which resulted in two engines being sent for scrap. Chicken at EFi and Turbo has been charged with the grouting, and the size of the bore has been reduced to chase reliability. There’s also a brand-new head set-up. The rest of the car remains much the same, with a Winters Quick Change diff down back, Wisefab steering paired with KW suspension, and the modified Liberty Walk– style kit to suit the facelifted G36 exterior.
While holiday delays prevented the car from making it down to Teretonga for round one, Cole instead employing his trusty championship-winning R34, he tells us the G36 should make an appearance at Pukekohe on 8–9 February.

Adam Davies to debut new car at Puke
He may still be the series’ lone rotary soldier, but, come round two at Pukekohe Park over 8–9 February, Adam Davies will be packing some extra firepower behind the wheel of an allnew 180SX. We detailed the build a few issues back. It started with a fresh acid-dipped shell and mimics where the development of the old 180SX left off, with long-time supporter Mac’s Mufflers handling all the fabrication.
The biggest change comes by way of switching from the 560kW 13B power plant that Adam’s known for to a Green Brothers Racing dry-sumped 20B semi-peripheral-port (PP) that’s based round a factory 20B block. It offers Adam increased torque off boost, which the little 13B was lacking somewhat and, by Adam’s own admission, is an absolute animal on boost. The package utilizes a 76mm BorgWarner S400 cranking 25psi, with a Pro-Jay intake manifold and 105mm throttle taking care of the cold side while a Link ECU controls the party.

Chassis-wise, the new shell is tubbed front and rear, with tube-frame structures for ease of repair, and, of course, a roll cage. A new tunnel has been fabricated to allow for the new five-speed Samsonas sequential, and the suspension package mirrors what is found in the 13B car, with complete Wisefab front and rear, two-way Feal shocks, Winters Quick Change rear end in modified 180SX subframe, and a pair of Green Brothers own custom axles.
Adam tells us that the testing they’ve managed to squeeze in has highlighted a few minor teething problems, and the team is now investigating the opportunity to run a smaller rear housing on the turbo in the hope of increasing response by 500rpm — something that new sponsor TiAL is helping out with. However, it’s early days, with more testing to be done and the intention to run the car at round two for the first time.
Mimico teammate Dave Steedman has also made a few changes to his RB30-powered S14, switching out the gearswapper for a matching Samsonas unit and upgrading to the slightly bigger BorgWarner EFR8474, which has netted more power through the mid range

Jake Jones to run full season
He’s amassed a worldwide following through his sideways exploits and crossed the ditch to pedal in the local series a handful of times, most recently at last season’s final, but for the first time Aussie Jake ‘DriftSquid’ Jones will contest the entire 2020 season here.
“After doing that one round last year at Pukekohe, I was in talks about coming back to do a full season,” says Jake. “There’s a massive following in New Zealand across my social-media channels, and I get a lot of support from the Kiwis. I think it’s because of the love for the RB engine here. So, obviously, I wanted to bring my RB-powered BMW, but, logistically, it was going to be too much. Thankfully, I was able to jump into the D1 86 that I drove last time.”

Back in Australia, Jake has been competing in statelevel competitions and one-off events such as World Time Attack. He’s also gone international, winning a Chinese championship behind the wheel of a Supra.
About the decision to take on the full season here, he says, “The whole series is so much better over here. I love everything about it, from the drivers to how it’s run, the fans, the interaction with everyone — it’s one giant family.” He adds, “With the cost to do the Australian series, I’d rather spend that money and come over here. The travelling, making a story, it’s been a long time coming. Jumping into the 86, it’s no slouch, either. The 2JZ platform has heaps of torque, and I’ve got a good crew here in Keg and Kyle from DKM.”
As for what he hopes to achieve this season, Jake tells us that his number-one goal is to leave every round knowing that he did everything in his power to win: “I’m not here to fill numbers; you’ll definitely notice the difference in my driving style this year. I’ve never been one to be driven by the win, I like to have fun, but I’ll definitely be pushing myself.”