Before he left New Zealand to establish a successful career on the world motor racing stage, reigning and now three-time Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion Chris van der Drift was one of the country’s best karters.
As well as winning a number of National and North Island titles the Hamilton driver also won the Junior ICA title at the 2001 CIK Trophy of New Zealand meeting and returned from Europe to contest the F100 (Senior) class at the 2006 and 2008 CIK Trophy of NZ meetings.
Fellow kart-turned-car driver Mitch Cunningham from Auckland won the F100 title in 2008, and like van der Drift went on to race single-seaters around the world.
That should have been that, but now that he is back living in New Zealand and in the process of setting up a new kart shop in Hamilton, van der Drift’s attention has returned to the CIK Trophy of NZ meeting and as far as he is concerned, the title that got away.
His timing could not be better, either, because after a break of five years the CIK Trophy of New Zealand meeting is back on the competition calendar in 2019, set to be hosted at one of its former homes, the KartSport Hamilton club’s facility opposite the city’s airport over the January 19-20 weekend.
The CIK-FIA is the governing body of KartSport around the world and the meeting – at which CIK of NZ and Challenge Cup Trophies are contested across a number of classes – was an annual fixture on the local karting calendar from 1998 to 2013.
Previous Senior CIK Trophy of NZ winners include New Zealand’s 2003 World Karting Champion Wade Cunningham (ICA/F100 2001, 2003 & 2006) and his younger brother Mitch Cunningham (F100 2007 & 2008), from Auckland, while previous Junior CIK Trophy of NZ winners include 2012 GP3 Series winner and now works Jaguar Formula E driver Mitch Evans (JICA 2007), 2017 Japanese Super GT class champion Nick Cassidy (JICA 2008) (both from Auckland), and multi-time European series’ single-seater class winner and now three-time Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion Chris van der Drift from Hamilton.
One of the catalysts behind the reintroduction of the CIK Trophy of New Zealand meeting has been the recent addition of two new kart classes, Vortex ROK DVS (Senior) and Vortex ROK DVS Junior to KartSport NZ’s official roster. The spec Vortex ROK DVS engine is very closely based on the current CIK-FIA OKJ class engines and is the same as used for the CIK-FIA Academy class, which runs at major CIK-FIA events in Europe and in a number of other countries.
It is the simple, direct drive spec of the new Vortex ROK DVS engine (which he will run in one of the new Gillard chassis he is importing and selling) which has specifically attracted van der Drift to the CIK Trophy meeting.
“I like the fact that it is direct drive and very similar to the main classes in Europe at the moment,” van der Drift said this week. “Karting is raw racing and I still love it every time I get back behind the wheel.”
The only problem if in fact he does complete his unfinished business at the CIK Trophy of New Zealand Trophy meeting at Hamilton in January and adds the inaugural Vortex ROK DVS Senior title to his CV is that the winner – and runner-up – earn entry, including kart, engine and travel package, to the annual ROK Cup International meeting in Italy in November 2019.
It would be just his luck if there was a round of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, or China GT Series, on over the same weekend!
After living out of a suitcase for a number of years, Chris van der Drift returned home to base his career out of Hamilton at the beginning of this year. As well as driving and driver coaching commitments throughout Asia he also imports and sells top-end sports and luxury cars from Japan, and is in the process of setting up kart business – P.D.B NZ – in Hamilton.
P.D.B is short for Peter de Bruijn, a former World Karting Champion from the Netherlands who van der Drift worked for while he was in-between car racing commitments in Europe.
Chris will import and sell de Bruijn’s Gillard and Falcon brand karts through his new business.