Mad Mike Whiddett shook off a tough start to the fifth round of the Formula Drift Pro championship held in Seattle, Washington, over the weekend, to prove he has the skills, the team and the machine to be a serious threat to the seasoned competition.
Despite a five-year hiatus from the US series, the Kiwi driver has quickly found his groove and posted respectable results in his first two Formula Drift rounds this season. It’s something made more impressive by the fact that Whiddett is competing in a brand new car.
RADBUL has exceeded our expectations. Formula Drift is the toughest drift competition in the world, so to place in the top 10 in our first two competitions this season – we couldn’t be any happier. The team has been doing lots of little things to the car in between my events, and I have really benefited from my crew chief Scott Dodgion’s experience and input. Overall, RADBUL is amazing and so much more than what I was expecting when drawing and writing down the parts list to build my ultimate dream drift machine. I'm still coming to grips with the chassis’ speed and response – it's frighteningly fast, but killer fun!
The ‘Throwdown’ round of the Formula Drift championship is not only an important one for drivers contesting the entire seven-round Pro series, but also one of the most exciting, with a long, high-speed banked section running into a tight and technical series of left and right-hand turns. It requires total commitment and precision, and headed into the event Whiddett was excited at the prospect of competing at Evergreen Speedway.
Seattle is one of my favourite tracks of the series, but like the other rounds, the biggest challenge will be learning the car quickly and finding a comfortable setup so we can be as competitive as possible. The other challenge, of course, is nature. If the rain sets in, we’ll have to do our best to adapt to the
If the weather forecast promised anything for the event, it was to expect the unexpected. Whiddett looked strong in the dry practice, but by the time qualifying rolled around on Friday afternoon, the sky had clouded over and the rain was coming down.
With 1,200 horsepower to tame, a clean pass was never going to easy, but Whiddett kept his composure and put some points on the board with only a slight wheel-off-course error to speak of. The second run, however, didn’t go to plan at all. Faced with a half-dried track, competitors struggled to maintain grip, and when Whiddett tried to hold close proximity to the wall, the bank bit back – hard. The impact tore the tyre off RADBUL’s left-rear wheel, resulting in an incomplete run and leaving Whiddett to rely on his first pass to secure him a spot in the next day’s battles.
Starting from 27th put the pressure on, but the team faced an even bigger challenge on Saturday afternoon when RADBUL’s Winters Performance Quick Change differential blew. An unexpected setback, all hands on the job ensured that a replacement was fitted – if only with a few moments to spare. With no time or opportunity to test the setup, Whiddett put all his trust in the fix and lined up against Hawaiian-born Forrest Wang in the Top 32.