Motorsport: Mad Mike wins Formula Drift Japan

Photo / Red Bull Media
Photo / Red Bull Media

Mike Whiddett couldn't contain his grin when despite the language barrier, he realised he had been awarded first place at the Japanese stop of Formula Drift World Championship in Ebisu.

Three rounds deep and this time racing in his Japanese based RX7 HUMBUL, which looked super slick in new black livery, Whiddett is now leading the World Championship.

"Winning at Ebisu against some of the world's best is more than just a dream, it's a 100% determination, a lot of hard work, time and commitment," says Whiddett.

"It's something we have been charging for, and it meant everything today to be on top of the podium with the Red Bull Magic Mazda RX7. We now lead the 2016 Formula Drift World Championship, with the next round in Orlando, Florida in two weeks."

The stunning track at Ebisu is the home of drift for Japan.

"It's an honour to be competing here against the world's best and some truly inspirational drivers on their home soil.

"With nine different tracks in Ebisu to choose from, Formula Drift did a great job in selecting this section of track. You need to attack it with maximum commitment and it brings out some good challenges with the changes in elevation and the positioning of the clipping points."

Having raced pervious Formula Drift World Championship stops in USA's Long Beach and Atlanta in his new Mazda MX5 RADBUL, Whiddett used his Japanese based RX7 HUMBUL for the Ebisu stop.

"Kawato and his team from TCP Magic did a great job preparing the car, it felt super strong and responsive on the track.

"The RX7 chassis really feels like an extension of my body when I drive it, it's a chassis I'm really familiar with and I have been driving one since the beginning of my career."

During qualifying Whiddett's team had a solid set up in the RX7 following the previous day's practice session.

"We threw down a solid run that scored us a 94 in the first past. This was a score we were very proud of considering it was HUMBUL's first competition. The skies closed in with rain and the track was wet and tricky in the second pass. We got a clean run and a 74, this enabled us to qualify 3rd and gained us a bye run in the top 32.

"The top 16 battle with Fukada was tricky as his big four door sedan was running at lower speeds, and it was a challenge for HUMBUL to be able to drift at these speeds when I was chasing him. We advanced with the win into the great eight.

"We won the top eight battle pretty easily by pushing at 100% in the lead run. Oshihiro was unable to match our pace in the chase run and fell back quickly, something also broke on his car, so we got another pretty easy win here.

"The semi-final is where I really start to push hard when we came up against Tanaka in his D-Max S15. This guy is quick. It was an insane battle in both runs, but we managed to take it out and move which gave us a spot in the Grand Final."

The final battle saw Whiddett meet a Japanese Champion, Yokoi.

"Yokoi is a great friend here in Japan and we have tested a lot together down in Osaka near Kawato's home base so I am very familiar with his driving style. I knew he wouldn't play any strategy games, which is one of the reason's I really respect the Japanese drivers, they always push 100%. Today our team pushed 101% and we got the win!"

The fans in Ebisu truly love Whiddett, and certainly showed it during all of his battles.

"I'm humbled by the amazing support we have internationally, the Japanese fans really show their passion for the sport and I always get a kick out of being around them, they always have such positive vibes."

Testament to his fan base, one of Whiddett's hard-core Japanese fans created an amazing RC Car replica of his 2016 Mazda MX5 Gen2 - RADBUL.

"The attention to detail on this thing is off the rails, cosmetically it's perfect, and he has even customized the wheelbase by shortening it."

Mad Mike's next Formula Drift World Championship stop will be in Orlando, Florida, on June 3.

- NZ Herald

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