Riverhead’s Curt Whittaker promises more power for Drifting title defence

Press Release – Fast Company
Reigning Cody’s D1NZ National Drifting Championship Series title holder Curt Whittaker (Toyota 2JZ-powered Nissan Skyline R34 coupe) has promised more power and a more aggressive style when he begins his title defence at the opening round of the 2012/13 season at Manfeild later this month.

Whittaker, who drives a Toyota 2JZ turbo-powered Nissan Skyline R34 coupe, won three of the six rounds to beat international ‘Mad Mike’ Whiddett (Red Bull/Speedhunters Mazda RX7) and former champ ‘Fanga Dan’ Woolhouse (Castrol Edge Holden Commodore V8) to the 2011/121 title. But the just-turned 30-year-old from Riverhead north-west of Auckland is well aware that if winning a title is hard, defending it is even harder.

“That’s why we ‘ve built a new engine and that’s why you’ll see a bit more aggression from me this season,” says Whittaker. “Our car’s always been good but probably not quite up there at that number one level, while the feedback from the judges last season was that, if anything, I was too smooth and too consistent. So there’s obviously a bit of room to move there.”

Last season Whittaker was one of three round winners – and the only driver to win more than two rounds – but after blowing his car’s original 2JZ Toyota engine at the fifth round at Whangarei he went into the final at Hampton Downs second in the points standings – and needing to beat – Whiddett if the Drift King crown was to be his for the first time.

When Whiddett lost his Top 4 battle with Woolhouse the odds turned Whittaker’s way. But Woolhouse is an equally formidable opponent and he and Whittaker had to re-run their final battle twice more before the judges could split the pair, Whittaker finally being awarded the round win and with it the Cody’s D1NZ title for 2011/12.

The turbocharged Toyota VVTi (variable valve timing) engine Ross Honnor of Waitara specialists Dodsons Dyno Tune has built for the 2012/13 season is similar to the first one he put together for Whittaker’s R34 coupe three years ago now but with a number of performance parts from the United States has the potential to produce a good 100kWs (134hp) more.

Whittaker is going to need it too, with all the key players from the 2011/12 season – Whiddett, Woolhouse, four-time former series champion Gaz Whiter, New Plymouth’s Darren Benjamin, Rotorua’s Brad Lauder, Tauranga’s Cole Armstrong and Aucklander Daynom Templeman – returning, several Australians shipping their cars over for the 2012/13 season, and 2011/12 Pro-Am champion Cam Vernon (Skinny Mobile Nissan R32) stepping up to the D1 class.

Most will be bringing considerable commercial backing with them too, in stark contrast to Whittaker who continues to balance a day job – as a self-employed plumber – to pay the billls, with team management and driving duties.

“To win at this level you need a good car obviously, and you have to have a little bit of luck. The main thing though is you’ve got to be hungry, you’ve got to really want to win, and when the money is coming out of your own pocket I think you are even more keen and eager to get the result!”

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