Video: Mad Mike Drifts Franschhoek Pass at 248kph
Consider the numbers: 248kph at 8800rpm through three gearshifts. This is how world-renowned Kiwi drifter Mad Mike Whiddett attacked the corners of Franschhoek Pass during the filming of his latest film, #Conquer The Cape.
Whiddett got to put ‘BADBUL’ his three-rotor Mazda RX8 through its paces on the Pass over two days in late September, under closed and controlled conditions. A world first, by all accounts.
‘The drive itself was just crazy,’ Whiddett commented of the pass. ‘I can compare it a bit to #Conquer the Crown, a very successful project we did back in New Zealand 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 massive cliff-drops and not much run-off. Not much space for error.’
BADBUL – one of five cars in Whiddett’s stable – came to South Africa from the UK, where it was used at the Goodwood Festival of Speed earlier in the year. ‘Before Goodwood we hadn’t used this car since it won at Red Bull Driftshifters in 2014,’ Whiddett said. ‘But it’s a really good car, and, like all the others, I consider it an extension of my body.’ Among other accolades and titles, it’s helped Whiddett to a New Zealand Drift Championship win; done Formula Drift USA Championship; been in the Need for Speed game and Shift 2 Unleashed; and, got fourth in Abu Dhabi for Formula Drift.
The BADBUL pushes some 800 horsepower to its tyres. ‘You know it is one thing with drifting to have heaps of power, but we’re actually have to have that much power to overcome the amount of grip,’ Whiddett explains. ‘As much as drifting looks like it’s all about just having heaps of power and no grip, it’s actually quite the opposite.’
‘For Franschhoek we swapped the Nitto NTO5R – on which we race to running a NT555R tyre,’ he said. ‘It’s a harder compound, but also high-performance street radial.’ Thanks to the compound, instead of only being able to do three or four corners, as one would in competition, Whiddett was able to drive around ten corners per set.
‘We push the car to the limits, whether racing or filming…so things break,’ Whiddett said. The crew (three mechanics and Whiddett) travelled with almost an entire car in spare parts, and then some. They needed it on Franschhoek Pass when Mike sheared the axle bolts right off the diff during the shoot.