In a storm of smoking tires and roaring engines, the Red Bull Car Park Drift Final 2016 concluded with Omani Haitham al-Hadidy crowned as the ‘King of Drift’ on Friday.
The executive director of Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) Sultan Zaher al-Muraikhi was at the event in preparation of Qatar being the host country of Red Bull Car Park Drift Final 2017.
The event was also attended by the Austrian ambassador to Qatar Willy Kempel. Sold-out crowds lined the drifting track created at Port Sultan Qaboos to be part of the biggest motorsports event ever hosted in Oman. Under the patronage of HH Sayyid Taimur bin Assad al-Said, the Red Bull Car Park Drift Final was held in association with the Oman Automobile Association.
The participants represented the best of the best drifting talent from Qatar, Kuwait, Mauritius, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Oman. They earned their place at the Final having topped their respective nation qualifiers.
At only 18 years of age, first time competitor Haitham al-Hadidy took home first place with 390pts and after a stellar performance. Previously al-Hadidy said his dream was to put his country on the map for drifting and motorsports. He said, “I feel so happy; I really wasn’t expecting to win. It is fantastic that this year it was an all-Omani podium. All the competitors had great performances, everyone put on a great show. I only got my driver’s licence three months ago so I am ecstatic about this win. If you love your hobby, you will do anything for it”.
It was a bittersweet result for long-time national champion Ali al-Balushi or ‘Lalou’, as his friends call him, who took home second place for this year with 390pts at the final round; however, the judges looked into the second round points, which gave al-Hadidy the title as he scored more.
“I am happy that I came second and that I have maintained my performance for three years in a row at the Red Bull Car Park Drift. I am glad that today was a celebration of Omani talents on the podium, I didn’t expect it at all.”
From his side, Tarek al-Shaihani, who came third with 386pts said, “I predicted that this year all the Omani drivers would reach the podium. We trained hard and we dedicate this win to the people of Oman.”
International drifting stars Ken Gushi, Dai Yoshihara, Aleksandr Grinchuk and Khalid al-Manji carried out judging. The judges were focusing on a range of different criteria including drifting skills, car look, box, clipping point, pendulum, gate one and two, car smoke and tire smoke. The demanding track designed by Rally Champion and Red Bull athlete Abdo Feghali was complete with permanent crane structures that tested the drifting skills of the competitors on a new level.
Suleiman al-Rawahi, Managing Director of the Oman Automobile Association said, “The Red Bull Car Park Drift Final 2016 really went off with a bang. The region has really made a name for itself in the world of drifting and Oman hosting the final for the first time has really placed it on the map for regional and international motorsports events.”
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