There’s no denying the performance and range of Toyo Tires, and Mad Mike has been shredding, driving on, and turning them to smoke since 2018. We had a quick chat to Mike to get the lowdown on everything Toyo!
NZPC: Hey Mike, how long have you been working with and using Toyo Tires?
Mike Whiddett: I’ve been very fortunate to be partnered with Toyo Tires since 2018, and on my debut season on their R888R Drift tyre we won the 2018 Formula Drift Japan Championship, making the dream debut season.
Q: In your opinion, what makes a quality performance and road tyre?
Balance, consistency, and a tyre that can work in all conditions.
Q: What Toyo tyres do you use on your fleet of race and personal cars?
One of the best perks of being partnered with Toyo is they have a tyre for everything! I have a huge fleet of vehicles from our family daily SUV on Proxes Sport SUV, Proxes Sport II on the #NIMBUL Lamborghini Drift Demo car, then all my competition cars are running a variety from R888R Drift, R1R, and T1R. My stadium off-road racing truck #RUMBUL runs Open Country M/T racing against the toughest off-road competition, and my personal daily Mazda BT50 4×4 pick up truck (Toy Hauler) drives on Open Country R/T, which has low road noise but heaps of grip on tarmac towing the race cars, or playing in the grass paddocks on the weekends.
Q: When choosing a Toyo tyre for competition use, what do you look for when deciding what compound/style?
I enjoy driving with a violent and dangerous-looking style, so ultimately I’m looking for the stickiest, most aggressive compound. The tread pattern also plays a huge part in grip and side bite, we have proved the R888R Drift has what it takes wet or dry to stand on the top step of the podium.
Q: With your off-road racing, why do you use beadlockers?
On my stadium truck we run beadlocks as we run the tyre pressures very low, this allows the tyre to roll over onto its edge and produce a ridiculous amount of grip whether I’m on the shiny slick clay or soft sticky topsoil. Also the beadlock holds the tyre on the rim when landing sideways into the corners off the big jumps.
Q: For someone looking at upping their drift game, what front and rear Toyo tyre combination would you recommend in terms of compound? E.g. sticky up front, road tyre on the rear?
Yeah, I can use my son Linc as a prime example for this, he is also very fortunate to have Toyo Tires on board with his programme. Linc has just turned 13 years old and has started drifting with his 12A rotary-powered Mazda MX5, which has only 180hp at the wheels. I am teaching him with low power and more grip as he will learn lots of useful techniques and this will make him a far superior drifter with a better style. Linc is using R888R on the front for the best response and grip, and the R1R on the rear, which also has an incredible amount of grip (consistent from new all the way to being slicked out), and which also respond very well to different tyre pressures, and doesn’t delaminate from the extreme temperatures drifting produces.
Q: Do you find tyre pressure makes a big difference in competition?
Yes, tyre pressures, shock settings, and wheel alignment are our three most crucial adjustments for getting the winning set-up on the day. Having a tyre that handles all conditions with low or high pressure gives us maximum confidence when rolling up to the starting grid, no matter the track, no matter the surface, and no matter the weather.
Q: Lastly, what’s your favourite Toyo tread pattern?
The R888R would have to be my favourite.