GT racing focus this weekend for drift racer

Drift driver Mike Whiddet (left) and Highlands Motorsport Park owner Tony Quinn at the track before the Highlands 101 event this weekend. Photo by Jono Edwards.
Drift driver Mike Whiddet (left) and Highlands Motorsport Park owner Tony Quinn at the track before the Highlands 101 event this weekend. Photo by Jono Edwards.
Through years of life-threatening stunts, ''Mad'' Mike Whiddet has certainly earned his nickname.

The Aucklander will demonstrate his drifting skills in demos at the fourth Highlands 101 event this weekend at the Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell.

He will also try his hand at his new passion of GT-racing in its signature endurance race.

Whiddet comes from a background of motocross, which began at his home on a farm bike at the age of 6.

He competed in numerous tournaments and was featured performing tricks on several Crusty Demons compilations.

''I'd be leading in the last lap in a freestyle motocross tournament, and then try a trick I saw on a VHS my auntie had taped and end up 13th or something.''

Since 2007, his focus has been drifting, in which the driver intentionally over-steers their car and aims to manoeuvre around turns.

He has recently come off a third place in the Formula Drifting World Championships.

Whiddet had his first major encounter with GT racing at Hampton Downs 101 two weeks ago, when he and driver Klark Quinn made it to the top-10 shootout.

''It wasn't a difficult transition for me. I just started a few weeks ago, but I'm hooked,'' Whiddet said.

The two will compete in the Highlands 101 endurance event in a McLaren 650S GT3 this weekend.

Quinn is last year's winner and son of Tony Quinn, who owns both Highlands and Hampton Downs.

About 80 cars, including Audis, Aston Martins, BMWs, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Nissans, Porsches, McLarens and Mercedes, will grace the track for the two headline events.

The action starts tomorrow with practice sessions for both championships and qualifying races for supporting events.

On Saturday, the the Australian GT Championship will be decided with two 60-minute races.

It will end a hotly-contested season involving two-time winner and current leader Klark Quinn, and fellow Australians Nathan Morcom and Roger Lago.

On Sunday, the feature 101-lap event will conclude the Australian Endurance Championships. It begins with a '''Le Mans'' start in which drivers run to their cars on foot.

It will also feature Quinn and Lago, as well as Tony Quinn, who has won the event twice, driving with New Zealand great Greg Murphy.

More than 15,000 spectators are expected at the track this weekend.

However, Tony Quinn is not worried about numbers.

''As long as the people who do come enjoy themselves. It's the fourth year and it's growing and I think New Zealand is really starting to embrace GT.''

The weekend will also feature supporting events including the Radical Australia Cup and the Highlands 1+01, a one-hour plus one lap race.

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