Rally New Zealand organisers have confirmed that drifting superstar ‘Mad Mike’ Whiddett will take on the Battle of Jacks Ridge on November 15.
The former Valvoline D1NZ National Drifting Championship regular and Formula Drift Japan champion will attend at the event in his 13B twin-rotor Mazda B2000 Stadium Truck — a regular fixture at events like the Leadfoot Festival.
For Whiddett, the announcement comes off the back of a whirlwind of chance encounters. “I bumped into Peter Johnston out at Hampton Downs at the cafe and he mentioned that even though WRC isn’t happening this year they were still going to push on with this mega event out at Hawkeswood’s,” said Whiddett.
“I met up with [Andrew] Hawkeswood and looked at the property and I was blown away with what they were constructing with excavators, bulldozers, and dump trucks. I was super pumped to see it.
“Also having an off-roader that has been sitting in the shed all year, I was like ‘yup, I am going to bring this out’.”
Whiddett won’t be competing directly with the rest of the pack, which includes the likes of Shane van Gisbergen, Michael Pickens, Hayden Paddon, and former D1NZ sparring partner Darren Kelly. Instead, he will run on a separate custom-made course designed to preserve the racing surface for the rest of the field.
The event comes after Covid-19 decimated Whidett’s scheduled motorsport calendar. “With everything that has happened this year it has been a super challenging year,” he said. “We had 31 international events on the calendar this year and we have done one. I am super looking forward to getting back behind the wheel.
“I am just excited about being a spectator; watching Paddon and Murph and SVG is coming over and having a thrash. There are some real heavy hitters coming to the event. The course they have created represents New Zealand so well and I hope that in the next year or two the WRC can come back to New Zealand and put on a special stage like this.”
Whiddett added that, while it’s different at its core, the event has all the hallmarks of a traditional drifting meet.
“That is one thing drifting does really well; we create this atmosphere where the crowd can see all the action. Rallying is one of those things where you stand on a corner and see a car come flying past, but it is past and gone within seconds.
“What they have created out at Jacks Ridge will give that atmosphere similar to the drifting where fans can see 95 percent of the course.”