Mad Mike Whiddett takes the wraps off RADBUL

Mad Mike Whiddett takes the wraps off RADBUL

RADBUL-09[2] copy
RADBUL-09[2] copy

A car of this technical magnitude has been a dream of Mad Mike Whiddett’s for a long time, and he will use the rotary-engined 2014 Mazda MX-5 – codenamed RADBUL – to contest select rounds of this year’s prestigious Formula Drift Pro series.

Both his four-rotor naturally aspirated Mazda RX-7 (MADBUL) and three-rotor turbocharged Mazda RX-8 (BADBUL) have proven to be competitive at a national level and the Formula Drift Asia Championship, but to compete on the international stage at the absolute pinnacle of the sport, required a purpose-built machine unlike anything ever seen before.

A conventional platform was never going to cut it for Whiddett though, hence the choice of a Mazda MX-5 as the start point for the challenging project, which was chronicled in our video series The Making of RADBUL. Watch episodes One, Two, Three, Four and Five.

"There’s two sides to drifting – the competitive aspect, and the show aspect”, says Whiddett. “I’ve always been about doing things differently and building cars that push the boundaries, but for this build I wanted to take it to the next level. The MX-5 is often referred to as a hairdresser’s car, but I definitely don’t think what we’ve created could be called that now!”

Despite having a wheelbase much shorter than your typical pro-spec drift car - something many deem conducive to initiating and maintaining sideways momentum at high speed - the NC-chassis MX-5 seemed like an ideal basis for the build.

"Originally we planned to use a turbocharged three-rotor 20B engine similar to the one we run in the RX-8."

"But once we had the MX-5 stripped down and we could see how much room we had to play with in the engine bay, it was obvious that we could go one step further with a four-rotor while staying within the rules."

Like the rest of the mechanical aspects of the car, the bespoke twin turbocharged 2.6-litre four-rotor Mazda rotary engine which outputs more than 1000 horsepower on its most conservative tune, was designed and built at Pulse Performance Race Engineering in Whanganui.

"From a parts perspective we’ve used only the best of the best from the biggest names, so combined with the engineering work this a nothing short of a world-class build. I’m confident that we’ll be really competitive in Formula D Pro."

Burning rubber

© Miles Holden

As for the way the Mazda looks, Whiddett worked tirelessly fitting and customising the bodykit and aero components, before designing and wrapping the exterior in a new blue-based race livery. In the MX-5’s case, the driving aspect is something Whiddett is still coming to grips with.

I have driven some quick cars over the years, but nothing even comes close to how fast this thing is,” he says. “With the short wheelbase and the power to weight ratio of more than one horsepower per kilogram we knew it would be a handful, but from a balance point of view I could tell right away that it’s got so much more potential than any of my other cars. That doesn’t mean it’s any less crazy though – I was shaking the first time I drove it.”

RADBUL is currently en route to the United States. A busy schedule awaits with pre-event testing ahead of a cross-country drive from their Los Angeles base to the Road Atlanta circuit in Braselton, Georgia, for the second round of the 2015 Formula Drift Championship on May 8-9. Having sized up the competition at Round 1 held on the streets of Long Beach, California, Whiddett knows what he’s up against.

Though we have a lot to learn, I really can’t wait to get behind the wheel of RADBUL and take on the rest of the world,” he says.

Sourced from Redbull

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