Sunday, May 27 12:20pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

LIVE STREAM: 'Mad Mike' Whiddett in Formula DRIFT Japan

'Mad Mike' Whiddett qualified third for the opening round of Formula DRIFT Japan at Suzuka Twin Circuit. He'll face Go Kamiya in his first battle in the top-32. 


Whiddett recorded a high 92-point score to sit just behind equal first and second place sitters Kanta Yanaguida and Kouichi Yamashita. Yanaguida took pole position with a 93-point run with his higher second score better than that of Yamashita's.


Sunday schedule (All times NZST):

Top-32: 12:40pm 

Ceremony: 4:00pm 

Top-16: 4:40pm 


Watch the live stream below: 


"For qualifying one today we banked a 92, that’s a really solid score," Whiddett said of his first run.


"This year my focus is just to drive the same, at 100%. I make less mistakes when I’m driving hard, that’s just the way I do it."


Having banked a solid first score, Whiddett pushed hard, too hard in fact, and missed the mark to better his first score.


"92 was a good score to have in the bank so it allowed us to push a little harder for run two. In the second lap I went in faster, flicked it harder, and had a much more aggressive entry, this made us come up a little short in zone two.


"We instantly discovered that with the new Toyo tyre the harder you push it, the more grip it has. It’s a really exciting and dynamic tyre to be driving on.


“Not a bad result today for qualifying, 3rd place puts us well and truly in the show for Top 32 tomorrow, that’s what I’m really looking forward to.


"My favourite part of drifting is chasing people down and getting on their door, that’s what counts, that’s where the big points are. I’m looking forward to seeing the battle tree tonight, and the competition tomorrow."


Whiddett said the opening day of competition was tough, especially with such a technical first sector. 


“The track here at Suzuka requires so much commitment," Whiddett said.


"The judges want to see commitment, they want dynamic entries and fast flicks, close proximity to the walls and they want to see the car fill outer zone two.


"Outer zone two has a super gnarly concrete wall and if you think about that too much, you’ll end up in it. There were a few wrecks today in qualifying with cars going in there. You have to be committed and throw the car in, commit hard to not hit the wall is kind of a weird concept, but it’s what you have to do here to do well."


Whiddett battled with grip in practice having tested a new wheel size on the rear, which gave him too much grip in the end. 


"In practice, we tested a narrower rim on the rear, which bulges the tyre and gives you more grip," he said.


"It was just too much grip though for us, only an inch difference, but it made such a difference as a driver and the handling of the car.


"We did a set of tyres on this and decided that the old set up was best. It’s a new tyre so we are still learning, it was good to test this but we don’t want to step way out from where we are at. It limits our practice time if we are not having good runs. It’s good to know we have this set up for when we need to chase grip in the wet at a later date."


Photo: David Ishikawa