Mad Mike Grabs Formula Drift Japan Title
The final round of the Formula Drift Japan was held oat Okayama International Circuit over October 6th to 7th, where Mad Mike Whiddett, driving a the 4-rotor twin turbo engine mounted “TCP MAGIC with RED BULL RX-7” grabbed the series championship.
Leading up to the weekend, there were fears that Okayama International Circuit would be impacted by Typhoon No. 25. However, as the large typhoon made its way to the west, the Okayama / Mimasaka Region on Sunday, 7th when the final tournament took place, saw perfect, dry conditions and, despite being in October, due to the effects of the typhoon, the temperature was close to 30°C. Mad Mike, who came to this final tournament sitting at the top of the ranks, faced troubles with low boost during Saturday’s qualifying. However, Mike attacked Okayama, known as a high-speed track, with high level technique and waled away with an 8th placed qualification within the 44-car pack to advance to the Best 32 tournament.
Mike and the team did not get through race day without trouble. On the contrary he and the team were forced to resolve several ordeals as the competition progressed. First of all, Mike, who continued running for the entire 60 minutes practice session, suddenly noticed a significant loss of power. The team initially suspected clutch trouble but after checking in the pit, it was found that the carbon propeller shaft had twisted free. This was most likely due to Mike’s tendency to attack the high speed track at full power. The team exchanged the propeller shaft in under half an hour and were in time for the start of the top 32 tournament. Although it must have been hard work changing the shaft, located right by the exhaust pipe that had yet to cool down, Mike’s lead and chase runs were said to be nothing less than 100% perfect by those watching.Taisuke Kawato, the team representative, said, “Because we repaired it in a short time, some were concerned that about whether the trouble would be resolved or not, but I always trust the car and the team, and running at 100% power is Mike’s talent.”
Mike advanced smoothly to the top 16 and cleared the fourth match of the day. Just when they were fighting in the best 4, the fuel injection became clogged and this saw the team on the edge of their seats. Nevertheless, a hard fought run saw Mike pull away from his rival. Then finally, it was time for the decider. Mike’s opponent was Andrew Gray (Scotland), who had taken 3 consecutive victories in the series. He also came on this tournament maintaining the possibility of taking the championship, but after Mike entered the final battle, that possibility was quashed. Still, without compromising each other, they displated powerful lead and chase runs that enlivened the audience. These two final matches were really close, and after the race, the audience not only let up a great applause but also a sigh of relief. Gray won the battle and Mike finished 2nd. It was very moving to see each competitor honoring each other after the result was decided.
Mike made a speech in front of the audience after taking the championship Mike. “I thank all the fans for coming out to the circuit. Thank you to Kawado-san and the team who built up this amazing car, thanks to the staff who controlled the race, the Marshalls and everyone who makes Formula Drift what it is. I am grateful to all of the media who turned out.” Mike then welled up when it came to saying the next part, “I also want to thank my wife, Toni…”
Purchasing an old Mazda 323 at the age of 13 and mounting it with an RX-7 engine, Mike honed his driving skills. He was then contracted as a performer for Red Bull at the age of 27, showed off his dazzling technique at various world drift events. All the drift machines he chooses are mounted with the Mazda rotary engines. “I have always loved Mazda Rotaries and I’ve been addicted to its unique sound since I was a kid. There’s no limit to their potential.” We at MZRacing can’t wait to see what Mike is going to do next.
We will continue to cover Mad Mike Whiddett and his drift machine in the Formula Drift Japan. Thank you to everyone who applied for a pit visit, despite the last minute recruitment drive.
Text by MZRacing, Photos by N. Kaneko and MZRacing