‘Mad Mike' Whiddett Conquers the crown: Pt 1

We speak to New Zealand's drift king as he prepares for the release of his ‘Conquer the Crown’ film.

© Red Bull Content Pool

Tomorrow, New Zealand drift racer ‘Mad Mike’ Whiddett will unleash his new project, ‘Conquer the Crown’, upon the world.

In the film, Mike has a crack at drifting the Crown Range, 47 corners stretched over a 10.4km strip of prime New Zealand tarmac nestled between Queenstown and Wanaka.

Mike took some time after the project to speak to redbull.com about taking on the beautiful but frightening piece of road…

Mike, how did you prepare for your run up the hill?
I filmed a pass from the passenger seat of our rental car earlier in the year and just studied that. We got into Queenstown also a few days before the project so we drove it again and again to try memorise all the corners so I could hit it with maximum attack from the first pass.

Conquer the Crown Mad Mike Whiddett
The film promises to be stunning...© Red Bull Content Pool

And which of your cars got the shout for the film?
The car of choice for this project was our 'MADBUL' Mazda FD RX7. It runs the iconic N/A 26b 4rotor Peripheral Port engine, which in effect is two Rotary engines joined together. It screams 514hp to the wheels with minimal torque so it requires a similar driving style to riding a 125cc two-stroke motocross bike. Right foot flat and a whole lot of slamming gears through the HKS sequential six-speed gearbox and massive clutch kicks.

During the run, were you ever worried about overcooking one of the corners and dropping down a ledge or two?
Yeah of course. I wouldn't be in the sport of drifting if I didn't get worried! This road pushed me and the car to the absolute extremes. The room for error was nil. With the solid rock banks and cliff drops, put together with speeds up to 232kmh [145mph] a crash could have been rather messy…

Conquer the Crown Mad Mike Whiddett
Mad Mike used his Mazda RX7 for the run© Red Bull Content Pool

Did you want ‘Conquer the Crown’ to be more of a drift demo or a straight hillclimb run?
More so drifting. I wanted to showcase the professionalism, speed and car control involved with professional drifting, as in New Zealand it’s still widely perceived as a boyracer sport. With drifting, we are judged on Line, Speed, Angle and Style, so I wanted to execute the run with as much angle, the most dangerous lines, as fast as possible and make it look as explosive as possible.

Do you have any ambition to try Pikes Peak?
I would love to compete at Pikes Peak. Maybe next year we could make that happen, to prove to people that drift cars are fast. Rhys Millen broke the Pikes Peak record last year in his drift car.

Conquer the Crown Mad Mike Whiddett
A helicopter helped to film the run© Red Bull Content Pool

Was there a favourite section that you had on the run?
All three sections were super challenging and totally different, from the wet and slippery switch backs in the morning to the 232kmh flying sweepers over blind crests, to the final fast and twisty S-turns with cliff drops and the helicopter side by side all the way to the summit. This was by far the most insane project I have done yet.

Have you seen the film of the run and, if so, what did you think?
Only yesterday did I get to see the clip and I am truly mind blown! Not just capturing the driver skill but the talent that has gone into making a days worth of shredding tyres into a production, a piece of art. I’m so pumped and can’t wait to release it this weekend!

Catch the film in full on redbull.com tomorrow, along with the second instalment of our interview with Mad Mike.