World first for Kiwi drifter as he conquers one of SA’s most iconic mountain roads: Watch Mad Mike drift Franschhoek Pass at 248km/h!
“There is only so much you can do remotely before you arrive,” explains Kiwi drifter Mad Mike Whiddett. “Google earth, some photos, maps – you know – that sort of thing. With most of the stuff we’re doing, something like Franschhoek Pass, you only really get a feel for it once on the ground.”
After recently taming a Magic Roundabout in the UK, Mike and his trusty Mazda RX-8, BADBUL headed over to South Africa. Mike drove BADBUL at Wheels of Fury in Cape Town, where he performed demos for the fanatical local crowds.
SupaDrift was next in Johannesburg where Mike also checked out the local spinning scene at ‘Wheelz n Smoke’ with its truly amazing drivers, cars and crews.
In between the two cities, Mike took on Franschhoek Pass, what he calls one of the drives of his life, so far. “When we go into competition I can watch Youtube clips of guys running the actual course and learn ever corner that way. Doing something like this – where no-one has done it before – the fun part is working it all out on the go.”
“The drive itself was just crazy,” Mike says. “I can compare it a bit to Conquer the Crown – a very successful project we did back home that was a game-changer for drifting because of the credibility the sport got for the precision driving – the scenery is very similar, but this road was far more raw, with like massive cliff-drops and much run-off. Not much space for error.”
“You go to race tracks and competition you push beyond your boundaries and if you slide off the track you have run offs and sand traps, you have k-rail and tyre walls… here, if you slide off the road, it’s game over. But that is why we push these elements, it’s what I enjoy – the adrenaline and the challenge”
According to Mike when he’s driving, he’s completely focussed, and puts any fears or doubts out of his mind. “You can’t think about the risks,” he says. “I used to do freestyle motocross and back then I used to think about the ‘what-if’s’ a lot and I had a lot of crashes.”
Mike has worked long and hard to overcome that and now has a very specific mental and physical preparation routine in the build up to a project or race.
“I used to listen to music and was always very hyped. Now I find I’m a lot more calm, relaxed and focussed. In terms of competition I could visualise the win, but I wasn’t always visualising the way there – you have to get to the finish line first!”
“Drifting is hard because you need to be thinking about the next corner because you set the car up for the turn in the previous corner, all while you have to be thinking about exactly what you are doing at that point in time. Now it’s just like natural instinct, I consider the car an extension of my body.”
Photos Red Bull