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Acapulco a far cry from Bucks

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Posted on August 24, 2023 Tags:

Mad Mike versus Mad Max

Racing precision to controlled chaos

Images courtesy Oracle Red Bull

That said, the popular sport of Drifting – in Buckinghamshire – is a far cry from the current horrors of Acapulco. And Oracle Red Bull’s Christian Horner had no such trepidation when two-time world F1 champ Max Verstappen decided to try his hand at the art of “controlled anarchy”.

Or the wizardry to master a powerful beast along its sideways dance across a circuit! An asphalt pirouette, even.

(I must admit I was more concerned about the damage caused to the grassed track edges!)

A worldwide phenomenon

The sport has since blossomed across the globe, and the ability to slide a brutal machine gracefully, in tandem, is a driving skill matched by no other.

So, it seemed it seemed inevitable that Max Verstappen took time out of his summer break to take on a lifelong ambition: learning to drift, joining forces with Master craftsman’ Mad’ Mike Whiddett for an unforgettable track challenge.

The venue was familiar territory around the Milton Keynes track in Buckinghamshire, under the tutelage of the famed Kiwi professional, recognised among the world’s best.

The 25-year-old Dutchman sitting at the top of the F1 drivers’ standings – battled rare nerves as he grappled with the 600HP FD3S Mazda RX7 MADBUL drift car, a stark contrast to his usual machinery.

He faced challenges previously unknown to him on a racetrack. With ‘Mad Mike’ guiding, Max was thrust into high-speed doughnuts, figure-of-eight manoeuvres, and the rapid direction-change known as the Scandi-flick.

The 42-year-old Auckland born Mike Whiddett is renowned for repurposing high-performance speed machines into drift marvels, notably transforming a Lamborghini Huracan into a drifting spectacle for the Goodwood Festival of Speed.  

And that’s an awful long way from Acapulco!

That same adrenaline rush!

Drifting is as raw as it gets!

Zandvoort only returned to the Formula 1 schedule three years ago on the wave of all the local support for Max Verstappen, who then amply repaid the raging Orange masses by winning the last two Dutch Grands Prix.

On the edge of the North Sea, located between two sand dunes, Zandvoort it’s an exceptionally twisty track with two banked corners – Turn 3 and Turn 14 – that are steeper than the legendary Indianapolis.

No surprise that sand frequently is blown onto the track – as it is at Sakhir, Bahrain – reducing the grip from the tyres.

Zandvoort, North Holland

“Overtaking is tricky because of the narrow track and constant sequence of corners, making qualifying even more important than is normal.

“Last year, no fewer than 14 drivers – including the top three – used all three compounds, underlining the wide variety of options available to the strategists on the pit wall.”

Most drivers made three pit stops in 2022 . On paper, the fastest strategy is a two-stopper, but it’s possible to stop just once with careful tyre management. Last year, the opportunity for a final stop onto the softs was made possible by a late safety car (following a virtual safety car).

Since Zandvoort hosted its first F1 grand prix in 1952, Ferrari is the circuit’s most successful team with eight wins, while Jim Clark has the most victories with four.

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