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2013 Australian Drifting GP Opens Sydney Motorsport Park's South Circuit Photo:

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Courtney McColgan | Jan, 30 2013 | 1 Comment

Australian drifting champion Rob Whyte has again asserted his dominance over the sport, taking out the inaugural Australia Day Drift Festival at Sydney Motorsport Park.

The battle wasn't without its trials, on and off the track: the judging panel, including US driver and special guest Matt Powers, were unable to reach a decision between the final two drivers, calling for a re-run.

In the end, Whyte’s high-powered 350Z helped him gain the upper hand, pulling away from South Australian driver Christian Pickering during the later stage of the uphill course.

Pickering earned a golden ticket to the final when his opponent, Japanese D1 driver Andy Gray, spun out.

Gray was a red-hot finals favouite early on, after his perfect qualifying runs placed him in top spot leading into the tandem stage of the competition.

He ran out of luck however, with an uncharacteristic spin upon entry to the first corner, handing the win to Pickering.

With the top two podium spots decided, the battle was on for third place. Gray, having been knocked out by Pickering, was paired up alongside young Queensland driver, Nick Coulson.

Coulson was in fine form across the whole event, throwing around his powerhouse VE Commodore ute with more aggression and deeper angle every lap.

Unmoved by the reputation of the man he was set to battle, Coulson drove superbly, rounding out the final podium spot against the international star.

Providing entertainment between the battles was Sydney based team, the ‘Blaze Unit’, with drivers James Abbott and Scott Schembri establishing themselves as crowd favourites.

Their door-to-door precision driving, aggressive looking cars and true flag-waving Australia Day spirit had the crowd cheering. Both have expressed interest in undertaking the 2013 ADGP season.

Competition aside, there was no doubt that the event's ulterior motive - assessing the suitability of the South Circuit for drifting events - was confirmed.

"We're incredibly happy with our first ADGP event at Sydney Motorsport Park. Not only did it showcase what is possible at the new South Circuit, but it helped cement a working relationship between ARDC and ADGP for the future," ADGP Director Andrew Hawkins said.

"We also hope that it will give the NSW Drift scene a big boost and help it grow."

The brand new surface and elevation changes were favoured by all, with a downward entry into uphill s-bends providing new challenges.

The layout also allowed for great spectating: whether you took up position at the bottom or the top of the course, the entire competition stretch was in full view of the crowd.

The event also marked the debut of a new team in the sport. Hailing from South Australia, GJH Haulage unveiled a six car team, making them now the largest in the country.

The emergence of such teams, among others, is an indication of the health of the sport.

Japanese Driver Andy Gray has also expressed his interest in undertaking the Australian series after sourcing a competition vehicle for the event here in Australia.

"ADGP has gone from strength to strength since it started. The driver skill, car quality and overall professionalism has been raised, along with the profile of the sport," Hawkins said.

"We are looking to take it to the next level by doing an event in conjunction with FormulaD Asia. This will be at the Calder Park Thunderdome in April."

Rob Whyte has also had a change of colours, securing a new sponsorship deal with Achilles Tyres.

Previously sponsored by Monster Energy, Whyte has indicated the move to Achilles may be the best yet for his career, hoping the new deal will see him competing overseas.

Whyte’s next stop is New Zealand, to represent Australia in the D1NZ series, as part of his 2012 ADGP Championship prize.


Final Standings

  1. Rob Whyte
  2. Christian Pickering
  3. Nick Coulson
  4. Andy Gray (JPN)
  5. Beau Yates
  6. Mitchell Bunney
  7. Josh Boettcher
  8. Simon Michelmore
  9. Michael Bonney
  10. Danny Williamson

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