I was very excited when Mike told me at this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon that he was making a return to Formula Drift, because not only is he a fan favorite, he brings a sense of style unlike anyone else on the grid.
I had a moment to catch up with Mike as soon as he was finished with Thursday practice ahead of this weekend’s FD Atlanta round.
Larry: You just finished open practice – how is your return to Formula Drift going so far?
Mike: It’s insane – seeing the speed of all the cars especially!
Just watching from the outside, you can definitely see the progression. I’ve been away from Formula Drift USA for five years, and the difference in speed from back then until now is ridiculous.
Today is our first time running on a new Nitto Tire NT05 compound, and it feels amazing.
Scott from SPD, who used to be Daijiro Yoshihara’s crew chief, has done a lot with setting up our KW coilovers and the rest of the suspension, so we’re really comfortable with the car now.
It helped that we took a lot of grip out of the car this morning, but since then we’ve just been fine tuning the setup and I’ve been getting used to the track with this layout, as I haven’t driven it before.
As for the speed of RADBUL, it’s pretty scary. I just need to learn the car and get my confidence up – mainly for the initiation and staying on the gas. It’s just that much faster than what we’re used to.
Larry: I noticed that when you are going back up the hill, your car is just pouring out smoke like I have never seen before. It’s so cool.
Mike: Yeah, it’s actually been a bit of a problem and we’ve had to put wind deflectors in to try and blow the smoke out. Because the cabin of the Miata is kind of like the back of a pickup truck, the tire smoke just gathers inside and swirls around.
The deflectors are really working too, because now when I’m on it, it feels like I’m not making any smoke at all. But when I pull back into the pits, my crew is telling me, ‘Man – that’s smokey as!’
I’m just really pumped to be back though. The camaraderie between the teams is amazing – it’s like a big family!
Nothing comes close to Formula Drift, and I’m just really stoked to be back.
I’m not here to break any records on this first season back – we just want to mix it up again, have some fun with the guys out here, and try and learn as much as we can.
As I said, the pace is the biggest thing that I need to get used to. I’m just trying to keep up with these guys because the cars have developed so much in the past five years.
Larry Chen and Mad Mike Whiddett
RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CA (March 28, 2014) – Just weeks after announcing its status as an official tire supplier for the 2014 Formula DRIFT series, GT Radial has added a second driver to the team, Kyle Mohan, who will be competing in a turbocharged Mazda RX-8.
An eight-year veteran of Formula DRIFT, Mohan joins fellow Mazda driver, rookie Tyler Wolfson, on the GT Radial roster. An independent team based in Signal Hill, CA, Kyle Mohan Racing routinely qualifies in the top of the Formula DRIFT field, making regular appearances in the series’ main event, the top-16 tandem competition. Competing against a field of V8 engines, Mohan’s turbocharged Mazda with its rotary engine regularly delights the fans as it screams around turns howling to nearly 10,000 RPM.
New for the team in 2014 is a three-rotor, 20B power plant which will produce in excess of 800hp. Mohan’s Mazda RX-8, designed and developed with Mohan’s longtime sponsor, Mazdatrix, will run GT Radial Champiro SX2 265/35ZR18 tires on the rear and Champiro HPY 255/35ZR18 tires on the front.
The 32-year-old driver, who lives in Long Beach, CA, is a three-time winner of the Long Beach Team Drift Challenge. He was also the 2010 Redline Pro Time Attack Drift Class Champion and was invited to the Red Bull World Championship in 2008 where he qualified in the top 10.
“It’s a thrill for me to partner with GT Radial for this year’s Formula DRIFT Pro Championship,” said Mohan. “Everyone at KMR has worked hard over the off-season to rebuild our Mazda RX-8 with a new, three-rotor engine and I can’t wait to see how we perform on our new GT Radials at Long Beach next weekend. We know based on their success around the world that the GT Radial Champiro SX2 is a great drifting tire, and we plan to showcase that in Formula DRIFT.”
The Champiro SX2, introduced recently to North America, was developed for driving enthusiasts who want higher levels of traction, response and driving control in dry and wet conditions. An outstanding performer on the street and the track, the Champiro SX2 has already experienced considerable success in Formula DRIFT Asia, with drivers such as Josh Boettcher from Australia who placed 3rd overall in the 2013 championship.
“Kyle Mohan is a great addition to the GT Radial Formula DRIFT roster,” said Armand Allaire, vice president of marketing for Giti Tire USA, which markets and sells GT Radial tires in North America. “He’s a proven competitor, and like Tyler, will be a great brand ambassador for demonstrating the world-class technology and performance of the GT Radial brand to North American drivers.”
This will be Wolfson’s rookie season in Formula DRIFT following back to back feeder series championship wins on GT Radial tires. The San Diego driver and his GT Radial/SAE Motorsport Mazda RX-7 will compete in the full seven event calendar of the Formula DRIFT PRO Championship, as well as the four event calendar of the Formula DRIFT Pro2 Series.
Both teams will be ready for the kick-off of the 2014 Formula DRIFT season on April 4-5 at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Street Course.