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News > Collegians > Control and chaos - the art of drifting

Control and chaos - the art of drifting

The tyres on Rohan Knowles’s Nissan S13 Silvia shriek as he initiates the car sideways at up to 150 kmph. There’s no room for mistakes.

Using the clutch hydraulic handbrake or horse power, the rear wheels lose traction sending the car into a powerslide and unleashes a torrent of smoke; this is drifting, and Rohan (Clark 1995 - 1996) describes it as, “a unique blend of control and chaos, a true art form.”

In 2004, while Rohan was involved in the motorsport of circuit racing, some friends were competitively drifting and Rohan had an opportunity to give it a go. He tried it, loved it and has been competing and involved with the sport ever since and at times judging top-level competitions. Currently he is back as a driver for the last three years at a professional level. Rohan’s skills are largely self-taught but he says, “It is very different from everything you learn, everything is telling you to go straight - but it’s sideways you need to go.”

In late 1998, the Japanese form of driving a car sideways made its way to New Zealand. The cars were basic, often with no cage, little power and super skinny wheels. “With new technical advances, the cars have more steering lock, the suspension works harder and they have three times the horsepower. The cars have become more reliable as they are now built to withstand the abuse they are subjected to,” says Rohan.

The drifting events that Rohan competes in typically span two days, with solo runs on the first day for qualification. Once he’s qualified, he competes in tandem drifting where drivers drift alongside each other, door to door, just inches apart.

Balancing his professional life at MTF Finance in Cambridge and his passion for drifting, Rohan has seamlessly merged both worlds, made even more evident by MTF assuming the role of his naming rights sponsor.

Pursuing his passion comes at a significant cost, with a day drifting at the track using 24 tyres at an expense between $3,000 and $5,000. He acknowledges the support of his brand partners, “I am so grateful for our partners, without them my car would never see the light of day.”

As Rohan gears up for this year’s penultimate round at Manfeild in Feilding and the final competition of the season at Baypark in Tauranga during May, he acknowledges friend and Collegian Jason Cutelli (Clark 1987 - 1991), whose expertise ensures top-notch tuning and maintenance of Rohan’s cars. Jason is the master distributor for Pulsar Turbo Systems New Zealand. Rohan also expresses gratitude for the support of his wife Bex and their children – Ella, Sacha, and Bradley – “without them having buy-in, I wouldn’t be able to compete, as they make huge sacrifices as a family,” says Rohan.

You can see Rohan race at the Valvoline D1NZ 2024 Grand Final, Baypark, May 10 & 11. 

Tickets can be purchased through www.d1nz.com

Rohan’s Brand Partners:

Naming Rights Partner MTF Finance Cambridge.

S & A Motor Co Hamilton, S & A Automotive Services Hamilton, Electrical Solutionz BOP Ltd, Crème Insurance, Douglas Automotive & Engineering Ltd, ROBS MAINTENANCE,

Fifty Shades of INK, Zombieland Rotorua, Pulsar Turbo Systems New Zealand, Infomotive Rotorua, Mac Civil Construction, MAX Fabrication, Autowire NZ, Choice Events and Promotions, TCM Farms, Domino Tyre Supply, Repco New Zealand (Rotorua),

Penrite Oil NZ, Red Star Signs Hamilton, PSP & General Formulations, Scottys Improvements, Cafe Dynasti, Tiles by Design BOP, Log On Forestry Services.

 

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