Yo Sup Speedhunters! After our team shakedown test with the rebuilt MADBUL I’m now stoked to bring you this blog from my experience at the 2011 WTAC at Eastern Creek in Sydney, Australia.
Firstly, I want to say a MASSIVE thanks to all my supporters in Australia that managed to make their way to the event. I had no idea and was shocked to see how many supporters I have in Oz. It was great to have the 4rotor there. Mazda Rotangs have a huge following in both New Zealand and Australia and both countries are known for not only the fastest rotary drag cars in the world but also some of the sickest rotary conversions including a 4rotor turbo jet boat, 3rotor turbo drag bike and peripheral port Bongo vans to name a few. So as a die hard Rota fanatic I was pumped when we got the invite to Sydney and the MADBUL was the tool of choice for this project.
The team spent the morning spanner checking the car and ensuring it passed tech inspection to have the MADBUL ready. We kicked off with a lunch time drift demo to give the crowd a wee teaser of what they were in for later that night and Saturday. Here I am checking my communication and of course making sure I can hear my beats loud and clear.
Chromie do you copy, Roger 10-4 affirmative copy.
This was my first time pedaling the RX7 in the dry after its massive makeover. The car now has so much chassis grip and the Yokohama Advan Neova rubber made it fast and a real work out to keep the peripheral port in its power band. Just check out this video of my ninja styles in the cockpit.
The flame outs sure were a spectacle but they had me stressing over how much flame was engulfing my fuel cell, pumps and lines. This was on my mind every second I was competing over the weekend.
I did my very best to keep the crowd warm and toasty!
I’m stoked with the new look, I personally think this is the best the RX7 has looked. The idea was to incorporate my OG snow camo with my big partners Red Bull and Need for Speed. And to the few people who think I've wrecked my Equips by painting them, don't worry, I still have plenty of chrome ones left.
Holy sh*t I may have cut a bit too much out of my hatch. The thing looks like paper as it twists! I’ll need to re-enforce that now it’s back home.
Or perhaps I'm secretly running some ASD active aero like Tyler Maquarrie's 370Z! The MADBUL was feeling real fast and tight but it was a violent weapon that’s for sure.
During the last lap on the last corner of our drift demo I slammed 5th gear – then *bang* crd digadgdgdgdgdgd. The diff exploded, literally broken into two pieces. Luckily my flame outs burnt up most of the mess I left on the track. My apologies to the time attack guys if I at all made the final turn awkward for a session!
I’m not fazed at all, we have an awesome team and it’s great to have the confidence that they’ll make short work of the tasks ahead of them.
Toni ensuring the team are fueled for the job ahead.
Here you can see one half of my full spool 4:7 locker that was kindly lent to us by Team Magic.
I must say I hate the smell of blown diffs and my guys then have to smell like diff oil for the rest of the day, sorry guys.
Before too long the MADBUL was back together for a berserk signing session at the Yokohama booth with my team mate for the weekend and best Aussie buddy Jake Jones, who later that night qualified in #1 spot. Well deserved champ! PS: It’s crazy how many people weren’t at work for a Friday!?
The crowds showed their support, going nuts for posters, autographs and a chat throughout the afternoon.
Freakin' awesome shirt dude!
I enjoy talking to the fans and it’s interesting to hear what their opinions are whether it’s about the event, my cars, my driving or even about their own personal project and dreams.
After the repairs, it was still real fast and also felt stable. I could hear the crowd over the screaming 4rotor. They were that loud.
The team changed the alignment throughout the morning and applied a few other changes to loosen the car up and try to compensate for the loan diff. The 4:3 ratio was not ideal for this track.
Over the weekend there was a constant flow of people gathering around our pits in the Yokohama corner.
To Jake Jones and his crew Marc-O, Lee-O and Bone-O: thanks a million for your efforts to help my crew in my five min time out. You guys ROCK the house (or hotel room should I say!)
The second day was the main event. In the morning I had some time to chill in the NFS booth and lay down some times on the new Need for Speed The Run game. I also took the opportunity to meet the time attack crews and see some of the insane builds from around the globe. Next year it would be sick to have Rado and the TNFS Scion compete at WTAC!
Here I’m now gearing up for the lunch time demo.
Benny and Chromie enjoying the atmosphere and sunshine.
By now it's all about focus for a short practice session before qualifying at night under lights. It was cold though!
I struggled in qualifying. I had some minor issues with the new wiring which now runs circuit breakers instead of fuses. The one controlling the fan kept switching off, meaning the car was getting hot on each pass and spraying coolant on the windscreen. In the darkness and bright track spot lights, it make my task of seeing where the hell I’m meant to go rather tricky.
In the Top 16 I was paired up with Tarquin Van Rooyen in his RB 26-30 powered S14.5. At this event the spotter;s task was very important. From the starting grid, you can't see the course, so you weren't able to see how others were driving. You had to rely on your spotter's notes from watching everyone test.
Stoked to advance with the win!
I went head to head with former Australian drift champ Beau Yates in his rapid little Hachi. There would be no pacing with this combination of car and driver that’s for sure! As we initiated into the right hand sweeper I could see his lights reflecting off our surroundings so I knew he was on me. I had a solid lead run and would pull a slight gap on the uphill.
After our chase we seemed similar in our runs, with the judges calling for One More Time. The rules in Australia don't allow you to change tyres for a rerun which seems crazy, so we would line straight back up on the grid.
While we were idling on the grid, my car was constantly flaming out of the 'pipe. I could see the flickering reflection of fire on Beau's car as I looked over to give him the thumbs up to battle! I was kind of freaking out about the flames as I knew there was something not right. There was air getting into the front section of the exhaust, and the moment I dumped the clutch the quad rotor scream instantly turned into the sound of an old Bedford cattle truck. I had lost a lot of power and would have to clutch kick the whole track to keep the car in a drift.
While mid drift in my battle, I was telling my crew through the radio that we needed a five minute timeout to repair the exhaust.
The 4 into 1 collector had broken off, and mad props to the guys for patching it up to get me back out within five minutes. Earlier in the week Toni had stopped in at Rocket Industries to get the guys brand new pit gloves, and they were now good for the trash!
Waiting anxiously while the marshall counted down our time. As peaceful as this pic looks there was a lot of bashing, flying tools and yelling going on right now.
“10 seconds” the marshall yells. The team come out from under, the car slams back to the terra firma as the valve is ripped from the air jacks. The team had got the damaged, bent and flattened exhaust back onto the collector, but then as I raced to the grid the pipe caught a bump and broke back off before I made it to the line! All I could do now was give it everything it had with the loss in power.
At this moment it felt like I was pushing the throttle pedal through the firewall to get whatever ponies I have left out of the 26B. I was pretty much drifting here using the momentum and weight transfer of the car from the long straight. I was looking good until the uphill section letting Beau get the win. It was great to see the crowd on their toes but I felt bummed for my team. They had worked their butts off this weekend. We would now watch the finals unfold. Or I should say I would, as the rest of my team were straight back under the car to prep it for the burnouts! Yeehaaa!
After the final, the Top 6 drivers were invited to drive up to the judges stand for the trophy presentation (my favourite part of the event). I was jumping for joy once I knew I was able to take part.
I was still thinking about my fuel cell as I slam 5th gear here!
Massive thanks to Ian Baker and Tectaloy for making this event happen, all my crazy supporters (you freakn' ROCK!), my team Toni, Cromey, Alec and Benny, my wicked line up of partners/sponsors, friends and family. Australia you were awesome. I hope you enjoyed the show and I can’t wait to be back!
Until next time, peace out.
Photos by Matt Malcolm, Charles Kha, Casey Dhnaram, Dino Dalle Carbonare, Mark Boxer and Andrew Foy