‘Mad Mike’ Whiddett has reignited his chances of a strong series finish after a solid driving performance at the third round of the 2012/2013 Cody’s D1NZ National Drifting Championship. With a disappointing Round 2 result pushed back into 11th place in the season standings; a top qualifying effort followed by fifth place finish in the main event battles has put Whiddett back in contention at the half way point of the series! During the contest the boys rolled out the ramps and kicked things off with Mad Mike turning up some smoke around the ramps and getting the fans pumped!
Held for the first time at Mount Maunganui in the Bay of Plenty on January 19 and 20, D1NZ Round 3 saw Baypark Stadium’s transformed into custom designed and built drift course. During practice Whiddett quickly came to grips with the layout. On his first qualifying pass he cemented the fact with a faultless run through the section. But miscommunication with the judges meant that it didn’t count. After spinning on his second run, he pulled it all back on the third and final, scoring 88 from 100. This was enough to tie first place with Dargaville’s Gaz Whiter. Based on overall qualifying points Whiddett had to settle for second position in the two-car battle line-up, but with only 27 drivers making the cut, he – like Whiter – received a free ride through the Top 32. Whiddett met Gary Tenana in the Top 16 and took the early advantage on his opening lead lap when his component spun.
Tenana led on the second pass, but another spin on his behalf left Whiddett with nowhere to go, except into the wall. It was an impact so great that a forklift was required to remove the RX-8 from the course.
“Because of my chase speed, I had two choices: either run head on into Gary, which would have done engine damage to both cars, or head towards the wall, but try to limit the impact. I chose the latter, but it ended up doing a lot of damage to my car. The crash cracked the suspension knuckles, bent all the arms and wheels on the right side, and destroyed the body kit. Luckily for us, D1NZ Rookie driver Ricky Lee, who also drives an RX-7, let us use his cars for parts. We literally jacked both Mazdas up, and swapped the right side suspension over.” – Mike Whiddett
After a quick test the RX-7 was deemed drivable, but it was obvious there were still problems. “There was a bent arm at the back that we couldn’t change out, and that alignment issue caused the car to want to spin under throttle.” – Mike Whiddett
Whiddett moved through to the Top 8 where he faced off against Nico Reid, but ultimately the bruised and battered MADBUL proved too much of a handful. Reid took the win and Whiddett’s event was over.
The 2012/2013 Cody’s D1NZ National Drifting Championship now shifts back up country to the Auckland region for an event at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park on March 1 and 2. As he’s proven with wins at Hampton in the past, the nature of its drift section is well suited to Whiddett’s aggressive driving style. “I love Hampton because we can throw the car in [to the judged section] with a reverse entry initiation. If we can do well here, I think we’ll still be in with a really good chance to finish the Championship in a good position. Fanga [Dan Woolhouse] has a good lead, but it’s definitely not over yet!”