‘Mad Mike’ Whiddett has taken out NAC Insurance Round 2 of the Cody’s D1NZ National Drifting Championship in front of a packed Northland crowd at Whangarei’s Toll Concrete Jungle. The first of two custom courses for the season, the D1NZ team spent a week transforming the Toll yard into a concrete lined track for the two-day event. With a changed layout from 2012, The revised circuit featured eight clipping points and some very challenging switches. It was a great test for all drivers, new and old, on just how adaptable they could be. With half of those clips being outside concrete clips, it was carnage form the outset, with spent fibreglass and tail lights sent flying into the air as drivers tested the new tracks layout. But thankfully the majority of drivers came away with little more than a bumper scratch or two.
As always, day one played host to the D1NZ Pro-am field Top 16, with many drivers getting their first taste of driving the challenging and unforgiving nature of a custom course. With a few cars put into the wall during both practice, qualifying, and one during a scrub lap, it was Auckland based Gareth Grove, Adam Hedges, and Michael Thorley joining Tauranga based Adam Davis through to Sunday’s Pro-Am Top 4. With both Hedges and Groove advancing to the final, it would be Groove who would take his first-ever round win, ahead of Hedges, who was also a first-time podium placer. The battle for third was taken out by Michael Thorley.
Sunday’s Pro top 32 would play out to set up a rematch from the Round one final between local hero Gaz Whiter in the Tectaloy S14 and Aucklander ‘Mad Mike’ Whiddett in his famed Redbull / Speedhunters RX-7. With third place going to V Energy’s Cole Armstrong. The road to the final wasn’t easy with Whiter blowing a diff between qualifying rounds requiring a change in under 10 minutes, and ‘Mad Mike’ suffering from a damaged HKS sequential leaving him only third gear for most of Sunday’s competition. Although both suffering their own mechanical dramas, it would also play into both drivers’ hands. Firstly Whiter who would receive an easy top 8 pass, after number one qualifier Curt Whittaker was forced to pull out when the rear hub broke during the scrub lap. Curt commenting later that he believed a wall tap during an earlier run had cracked the hub, and was thankful it happened when it did and not during a full-power run. For Whiddett his mechanical reprieve would come at the cost of Gaz hitting the wall during the final battle. Gaz who was following higher qualifer Whiddett was lost in the RX-7s smoke and entered too deep, slamming the left-hand side into the wall and breaking a suspension arm. Unable to continue, this handed Mike the round win. ”No-one likes winning like that,” admitted Whiddett, “but a win is a win. Unfortunately in practice this morning I wrecked our good gearbox and we didn’t have time to change it before qualifying then the battles so we had to lock it in third (gear) and hope for the best.”
This moves ‘Mad Mike’ into first place overall on 204 point, two points clear of Whiter. Shane Van Gisbergen who again put in a solid performance to place seventh overall, which sits the V8 Supercar driver in third place on 145 points, just clear of 2012 DK Curt Whittaker. The Cody’s D1NZ circus now moves to Tauranga’s Baypark on January 18/19 for the second custom track of the season.