Crucial car-swap set to shake up D1NZ season finale this weekend at Pukekohe Park

This weekend’s Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship season finale has thrown up one final twist, as Pro series contender Tom Marshall has confirmed that he will be switching cars for the event.

Marshall, who currently sits second in the championship standings, will trade his Evergreen Tyres V8-powered Nissan Silvia S15 for the D1NZ’s guest car; the Toyotaz Galore Toyota GT86. This is the same car formerly driven by the likes of Australia’s Beau Yates, America’s Ryan Tuerck, and Japan’s Daigo Saito.

The unique situation is a result of Marshall managing to find a buyer for his current car, with the GT86 providing him with a taste of a platform he hopes to build his next car around.

"I get a chance to drive a car that I wanted to build, which is pretty mean. It’s a bit of a bummer that I’m jumping into a new car for the last round. I might pick it up quick, I might not, who knows,” said Marshall.  

"I want to make something different; there are so many Silvias on the track now, and there’s only the one Toyota 86.”

Marshall knows that toppling Armstrong will be a challenge; particularly at Pukekohe Park, which is the most challenging and high-speed course on the D1NZ calendar. But, the driver and his small ATJ Drift team are simply happy to be part of the title equation.UK-born Marshall heads into the Pukekohe Park series finale as the only driver within firing distance of series leader Cole Armstrong. The V Energy pilot leads Marshall by 39 points, with the next driver in the standings, Team DSR’s David Steedman, too far adrift to contend for the title.

"There’s still a chance I could win the championship, but as it sits with the points at the moment I’m happy either way. Even with a top-three I’d be wrapped.

"If I take it out then that’d just be awesome. Cole’s got a good lead, so if he carries on doing what he’s been doing the whole season then I’m pretty sure he’ll get it. […] I’ve got to win and Cole has to do average — I’ve got to drive like a boss and someone’s got to knock him out quickly.

"[Pukekohe] is a cool track. It’s pretty scary and definitely fast. The first time I did it everyone was throwing it in at 200kph — it definitely got the nerves going.”

Testing and qualifying for the D1NZ Pro and Pro Sport Series finale begins this Saturday, with the championship-deciding battles following on Sunday.  

- Matthew Hansen

Copyright ©2017 Counties Racing Club, T/A Pukekohe Park