DUBAI: The UAE qualifiers for Red Bull Car Park Drift 2019 took place on April 12 on a circular course in the rooftop car park of Dubai Marina Mall.
UAE-based Egyptian driver Ahmad Sameer Al-Adl came first out of 17 participants with an overall score of 342 points — an impressive total on the technically challenging course designed by pro drifter and Red Bull athlete Ahmad Daham, who won the event’s regional finals two years in succession in 2014 and 2015.
“It’s the first time we’ve done this on a rooftop,” Daham told Arab News. “It was inspired by Tokyo Drift — the way they do it in Japan. It was very tight, very technical. There was no margin for error. Anyone who made a mistake, crashed.
“So it didn’t depend on the car; mostly it was dependent on the skill of the driver,” he continued. “Which is the way we wanted it, to give people who don’t have money to build good cars a chance to be able to win it.”
Al-Adl’s closest challengers included Lebanese drivers Mohammad Chehab (283 points) and Ayman Bou Fakhreldine (333 points), and Jordanian drifter Fadi Abu Shehadeh (301 points). Al-Adl will now go on to represent the UAE at the 2019 Red Bull Car Park Drift finals in Istanbul on September 1.
Daham said Al-Adl is “one of the best drivers in the region.”
“His car was perfect for the track — it’s not a very high horsepower car. It’s small and short. But he was technically very good too,” Daham explained. “He’s getting better every year.”
Daham is well-aware of what it takes to win such contests, having won four Middle East drift championships himself. Indeed, later this year he is one of just five drifters worldwide to be invited to take part in this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK. And next month he’s heading to Europe to compete in the Drift Masters European Championship — regarded as one of the toughest competitions around.
Before Red Bull Car Park Drift’s September final, the Middle East will host more qualifying rounds, including Lebanon (May 4 and 5), Jordan (August 16), and Saudi Arabia — although a date has yet to be announced for the latter.