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Chasing The Smoke: driver updates from the 2020 Valvoline D1NZ National Drifting Championship (March)

1 March 2020



Regular updates from the 2020 Valvoline D1NZ National Drifting Championship

Round four: 27–28 March Hampton Downs, Te Kauwhata
Round five: 8–9 May Pukekohe Park Raceway, Auckland

Liam Burke returns

After missing round one at Teretonga due to a rebuild over-run, Whangarei local Liam Burke attacked round two at Pukekohe with a desire to stand on that podium and bank serious championship points. 

The off-season had seen a change in set-up on the 2JZ-powered S13 with the addition of a Radium fuel system, and a relocation of the radiator from the front of the car rearwards in a quest to stack more weight over the rear axle. That also meant the change from a WC34 Stagea subframe to an S15 unit paired with GKTech extended lower-control arms for more camber adjustment, V3 offset strut tops in order to easily adjust caster from the top, and a GKTech front sway bar. The power package remains much the same as when we last saw it, with the addition of a new turbo and a tune by GDS Automotive, which is now pushing 600kW. 

Doing 95 per cent of the work himself, Liam tells us that missing Teretonga was inevitable and making it to round two was a rush, to say the least; many a late night was spent in the garage prepping the car. It was all worth it though, with Liam saying that the car was the best it’s ever felt. He also credits his performance, reaching the final battle against former teammate and fellow Whangarei local ‘Fanga Dan’ Woolhouse, to spending time practising on a simulator, honing throttle control, and chasing transitions.

As for battling Fanga Dan, Liam tells us: “It’s never a dull moment battling Fanga. You just know he’s going to be door banging, so I went into that battle with the mindset of not letting him pull a gap. That all came crashing down when I misjudged Fanga’s aggressive style, not allowing him enough room to transition, resulting in a very big hit with his car and then me into the wall.”

The list of damage included a left-front knuckle, a bent wheel, a smashed oil cooler, a hole in the intercooler, and panel damage. The five-minute mechanical wasn’t enough to rectify the issues, unfortunately, landing him on the second step on the podium. But Liam says that the car will be ready for war come round three.

Tough round for Greenslade

What would drifting be without a few trials and tribulations? Jesse Greenslade and crew were battling the odds before even arriving at Pukekohe as they attempted to rectify exhaust-restriction issues that saw the turbo choking up thanks to the massively ported RB26 head on the billet-blocked RB26/30 in his ‘NZ Girls’ S15. The call was made to switch back to a previously used head that had less porting and chucked massive 292-degree, 11mm lift Kelford cams at it instead. The car went straight to the NDT Developments dyno where it made a cool 746kW on 35psi before being pulled back to 634kW on 25psi for round two.

“This year we struggled with the track,” says Jesse. “We were struggling with grip and found the track to be very bumpy, which made the car very unsettled. After doing two hours of practice, we were entering at 200–210kph before being called into the pits for qualifying. About 30 minutes passed, we went back out and did the same thing we’d done all weekend, but when I pulled the handbrake this time it was like being on ice skates. There was no grip or side bite.”

That lack of grip saw Jesse hussing down the concrete wall at full pace after not having made the turn for the sweeper — a location that has caught out many a top drifter over the years of D1 running at Pukekohe. The team tells us it later found out that, in the time before qualifying, track temps had dropped by 18 degrees.

The crash did its fair share of damage, with the team working late into the night to straighten the car out; install a new subframe and hubs; replace all rear arms, a Winters Quick Change, fuel cell, axles; and align the whole package. Making it just two minutes before battles began the next day, it wasn’t meant to be after the car shut down during the first battle — chalked up to cambelt stretch from the billet block growing and retracting, causing it to skip a tooth.

Not to let a bad round knock him back, Jesse says that the car is already back to full health and good to go for round three, which will have just taken place by the time you’re reading this.

Olivecrona dials in turbo V12

Having spent the off-season strapping a pair of huffers onto the screaming Hartley Motorsport V12 that sits in the engine bay of his Nissan S14, Jaron Olivecrona has spent the first two rounds dialling in the new package, which he describes as a whole new beast.

“I’m still getting used to it all over again. In terms of power and torque, it’s got 50 per cent more across the entire rev range,” explains Jaron. “We’ve dialled the limit back to 9500rpm and it’s pushing 1017hp [758kW] on 11.6psi at its peak. At 6000rpm it’s making 780hp [582kW]!”

The Hartley Motorsport–built V12, based on the 1GZ-FE found in a Toyota Century, is now aided by a pair of custom Holset turbos that sit atop custom manifolds and send unneeded boost out the bonnet via twin TiAL wastegates. The turbos have muffled the scream that the V12 had become known for, with their whistling drowning out the sound of the exhaust, so they have added ‘megaphones’ to amplify the note, which Jaron says is taken straight from the old days of Formula 1. Heat exchangers and a cool box have also been added to aid cooling following rising intake temps found at round one. 

Compression was dropped from 13.5:1 to 11.5:1 in the name of reliability, but the set-up retains its punchy throttle response that limits lag and allows you to get straight on the gas. Jaron tells us that for every 2psi of boost they added, the dyno showed an additional 149kW!

The package is so thirsty for E85, an additional fuel pump had to be added after round one, which brings the count up to three Bosch 044 pumpers. Unfortunately, a steering arm broke on turn one during his first battle at Pukekohe, putting the team out for the round, but he tells us that, with a few niggly issues sorted, the car is expected to be on-song for the rest of the season.

We’ve also been given word that there’s a ‘Supra-rise’ on the way that will be the point of focus once the season concludes. We’ll let your imagination do the rest!