'Mad Mike' takes first ever Formula Drift victory, leads world series

Top Kiwi drifter 'Mad Mike' Whiddett has won round two of the 2016 Formula Drift Japan championship, claiming the victory after a cool, consistent, and flamboyant run through qualifying and the final battles. It's his first ever Formula Drift win, after several years of trying.


The win sees Whiddett take the provisional lead of the Formula Drift World Championship points standings, after his key rivals failed to progress to the top four.


Piloting his quad-rotor twin turbo Mazda RX-7 'HUMBUL', Whiddett qualified third yesterday, before a relatively straightforward run through the order to the top-four battles.


After a by during the top-32 battles, Whiddett's first tandem battle took place in the top 16 with Takahiru Fukada and his Toyota Chaser. Despite an aggressive initiation from the chasing Fukada during his chase in the opening run, Whiddett was able to build a gap by the end of the section. Whiddett's chase run was a formality; spent tucked underneath Fukada's rear wing.


His second battle in the top eight, this time against Daishe Oshiro, was also a one-sidded one. Oshiro, also piloting a Toyota Chaser, threw his opening run after washing out at the first inside clipping point. What appeared to be a car failure for Oshiro in the second run put paid to the battle, and vaulted Whiddett into the top four — where he would face his first large challenge from Seimi Tanaka.


Whiddett set the tone early in his battle with Tanaka and his Nissan Silvia S15 with a steeply angled initiation to the first corner during his lead run, healthily clipping the outside clipping point before hitting the inside clipping point — managing to maintain his angle for the full process.


Tanaka came close to matching Whiddett while chasing, but the New Zealander's proximity during his chase later on could not be matched. The judging panel sided with Whiddett two-to-one, with one of the three judges voting for a one-more-time replay of the batle.


He would meet up with former US Formula Drift sparring partner Masashi Yokoi, and his Nissan Silvia S15. 


Yokoi's chase in the first run was aggressive, the driver smashing two pylons at the outside clipping point of turn one, before taking our another on the run to the final corner — fading away from the back of Whiddett by the end of the section. Whiddett's chase by contrast was error free, save for a minor bump on the entry to turn one. The run would be door-to-door for its remainder, helping hand Mad Mike Whiddett victory. 


Sure enough, Whiddett was announced the winner minutes later, leaving Yokoi to finish second, with Kazuki Hayashi completing the podium; also driving a Silvia S15.


Photo: Total Car Produce Magic