Formula DRIFT Japan headed to the mountaintops of the famed Ebisu Circuit for the second round of the Formula DRIFT Japan Championship and third round of the Formula DRIFT World Championship where Mike Whiddett takes the victory in the Red Bull Magic Mazda RX-7.
KW suspensions Drifter Mike also leads the Formula DRIFT World Championship. A capacity crowd at the heralded jewel of Japan drifting came to the Ebisu Circuit to witness world-class competition from the top drivers in the sport. Mike Whiddett (NZ) couldn’t contain his grin when despite the language barrier, he realised he had been awarded first place at the Japanese stop of the Formula Drift World Championship in Ebisu. Three rounds deep and this time racing in his Japanese based RX7 HUMBUL, Whiddett is now leading the World Championship.
“Winning at Ebisu against some of the world’s best is more than just a dream, it’s 100% determination, a lot of hard work, time and commitment.” Says Whiddett. “It’s something we have been charging for, and it meant everything today to be on top of the podium with the Red Bull Magic Mazda RX7. We now lead the 2016 Formula Drift World Championship, with the next round in Orlando, Florida.”
The stunning track at Ebisu is the home of drift for Japan. “It’s an honour to be competing here against the world’s best and some truly inspirational drivers on their home soil.” Comments Whiddett. “With nine different tracks at Ebisu to choose from, Formula Drift did a great job in selecting this section of track. It offers up some good challenges with the changes in elevation and the positioning of the clipping points.” Having raced previous Formula Drift World Championship stops in USA’s Long Beach and Atlanta in his new Mazda MX5 RADBUL, Whiddett used the Japan based RX7 HUMBUL for the Ebisu stop.
“Kawato and his team from TCP Magic did a great job preparing their car, it felt super strong and responsive on track.” Says Whiddett. “The RX7 chassis really feels like an extension of my body when I drive it, it’s a chassis I’m really familiar with and I have been driving one since the beginning of my career.”
During qualifying Whiddett’s team had a solid set up in the RX7 following the previous day’s practice session. “We threw down a solid run that scored us a 94 in the first past. This was a score we were very proud of considering it was HUMBUL’s first competition in it’s new form. The skies closed in with rain and the track was wet and tricky in the second pass. We got a clean run and a 74, this enabled us to qualify 3rd and gained us a bye run in the top 32.
“The top 16 battle with Fukada was tricky as his big four door sedan was running at lower speeds, and it was a challenge for HUMBUL to be able to drift at these speeds when I was chasing him. We advanced with the win into the great eight.
“We won the top eight battle pretty easily by pushing at 100% in the lead run. Oshihiro was unable to match our pace in the chase run and fell back quickly, it appeared something broke on his car and he lost his drift – giving us the win. “The semi-final against Tanaka in his D-Max S15. This guy is quick. It was an insane battle in both runs, but we managed to take it out and move on which gave us a spot in the Grand Final.”
The finals saw Mike Whiddett take on famed Japanese drifter, Masashi Yokoi. Both drivers went door-to-door on both runs, but it was Whiddett’s lead run that sealed the victory with a perfectly executed backwards entry. Yokoi lost his positioning as Whiddett accelerated to the final clip, which ended with the judges unanimously favoring Whiddett giving him the victory.
“Yokoi is a Champion and great friend here in Japan. We have tested a lot together down in Osaka so I am very familiar with his driving style. I knew he wouldn’t play any strategy games, which is another reason I respect the Japanese drivers. He drove exceptionally well and I take my hat off to him for an amazing battle but we pushed harder and took the win!”
“What an amazing event! To be here with the Formula DRIFT Japan team to witness this wonderful event and amazing competition was something any fan of drifting could only dream of,” said Ryan Sage, Vice-President of Formula DRIFT. “Today I saw some of the best drifting in the world and I am proud to see all these drivers, from different walks of life, live out their dream at this legendary track.”
Here you’ll see a recap of the best scenes of Mad Mike Whidetts Formula Drift Japan Round 2.
Photos RED BULL MEDIA CONTENT / Mad Mike Whiddett