Drift driver Mike Whiddett conquers Crown Range in New Zealand

Article by Anita Panait, on May 8, 2013

“Road closed, drifting ahead.” This could be one of the road closure signs that were installed across three sections of the Crown Range in New Zealand when international drift-driver Mike Whiddett challenged the highest paved roadway in the country.

Piloting a Mazda RX7, New-Zealand-based Whiddett made a furious roar to conquer the 10.4-kilometer Crown Range and its dangerous corners. With the road clear of any obstruction like passing vehicles and people, Whiddett was able to show his drifting skills at the Crown Range and push his quad-rotor rotary-engine powered RX7 to new limits.

One of the trickiest parts of the road was its first section –- made challenging by the seven consecutive hairpin turns dubbed as Switchbacks on a near-vertical mountainside climb. The second section of the road allowed Whiddett to push the Mazda RX7 to its limits, using all of the vehicle’s 750 hp output to cruise to a top speed of 232 kilometer per hour along the Crown Terrace.

Approaching another corner, Whiddett made his drifting preparations. He suddenly pulled the handbrake to lock the rear wheels and then stepped back on the accelerator. The drifting motion caused the tires to erupt into a spinning frenzy leaving black marks on the asphalt road.

Whiddett’s hillclimb to the Crown Summit made him cruise his RX7 on differing speed bends – all of which were made to attack sideways. While the margin for error is quite slim in this drifting challenge, Whiddett was able to perfectly pass all 47 corners of the Crown Range without any untoward incident.

Born on January 10, 1981, Mike Whiddett is a drifting racer from Auckland, New Zealand. Also known as "Mad Mike," Whiddett has taken part in motocross events from the age of six. He even placed second at the New Zealand 1997 Pro junior 85cc Motocross Champs.

Whiddett is known for his preference for Mazda cars, in which he has been drifting since he started in 2007 in a Mazda RX7.

In 2009, Whiddett finished first at Wonder World Amusement Park in the Formula Drift Asia series. He also finished third at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park leg of the 2009 Formula Drift Asia series. In 2010, Whiddett competed in Formula Drift in the United States and was named the as Most Improved Driver for the season. In the 2010 season of the Formula Drift, he finished in the Top 16 at Irwindale. His highest finished in the season was 10th, as held in the Las Vegas leg of the 2010 Formula Drift.

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Topics: mazda, race car

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