Swapping tyre-destroying for grip-chasing
Fresh out of his 2020 drifting campaign, former national drifting champion Darren Kelly has confirmed that he will trade in burning tyres for chasing grip to contest this year’s North Island Endurance Championship (NIEC) and South Island Endurance Championship (SIEC).
Behind the wheel of the International Motorsport–prepared Aston Martin Vantage GT3, Kelly will share driving duties with Aston Martin factory driver Alex Riberas. The entry will mark Kelly’s debut in the series, flying under the The Heart of Racing (THoR) flag, which partners with the Starship Foundation to raise vital funds for New Zealand’s national children’s hospital.
“This is a great opportunity to compete in GT racing, alongside Alex,” says Kelly, “[and] as someone who spent a lot of time in paediatric hospitals growing up, the purpose of The Heart of Racing really resonates with me.”
Spaniard Riberas became friends with Kelly after being stranded in New Zealand amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Kelly has taught him the ropes of drifting and now Riberas hopes to return the favour in GT experience.
“I’ve had a lot of fun learning drifting from Darren,” said Riberas. “Now I get to show him the ropes of racing a GT3 car on a road course in these very competitive series.”
Teretonga Park, Invercargill, will play host to the pair’s first laps come 12 September for the opening round of the SIEC, before they head northward for the first round of the NIEC series the following weekend.
A combined grand finale is set to take place at Highlands Motorsport Park over 6–7 November.