Omani trio in first-ever Red Bull Car Park Drift final

Energy Monday 21/November/2016 22:08 PM
By: Times News Service
Omani trio in first-ever Red Bull Car Park Drift final

Muscat: There are three Omani finalists for this year’s Red Bull Car Park Drift final which is being held in the Sultanate for the very first time.
Traffic jams in Oman now occur frequently, and often cause anger and frustration.
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However, if you see one snaking towards Port Sultan Qaboos on December 9, it will be one that induces pride across the nation.
At the local championship, Ali Al Balushi won for the fourth consecutive year. Aged only 18, first-time competitor Haitham Al Hadidi thrived under pressure and secured second place. The third place was snagged by Tarek Al Shaihani, who will also be joining Al Balushi and Al Hadidi at Port Sultan Qaboos next month.
To get to this stage represents not just the hard work put in by these young Omanis but also the sacrifices and efforts of their families.
“Preparing the car was not easy but my family supported me. Together, we spent days and nights making the car ready for the competition,” Al Hadidi said, adding,“It was an amazing experience and I feel so happy to be in second place in my very first competition.”
“Since my childhood I have been participating in karting and buggy competitions, training after school and during the weekends. I only started drifting a few months back when I got my driver’s licence,” he said.
“My dream is to put my country on the map for drifting and motorsports in general,” he said.
“Drifting is not a game, it needs a professional driver with a professional approach. I plan to become the best motorsports athlete possible and represent my beautiful Oman internationally,” he added.
While having three representatives in the final is a proud moment for the Sultanate, it is the efforts behind the scenes that have delivered results.
Suleiman Al Rawahi is the managing director of the Oman Automobile Association, which is organising the event in collaboration with Red Bull.
“In the last three years, the level of drifting in Oman has really improved a lot and that is because of the restructuring of our association in the last four or five years,” he revealed. “With the facilities that came up three years ago, Oman now produces some of the best drifters in the region.
“Red Bull always looks for very iconic locations, so we thought Port Sultan Qaboos would be the ideal location since it is in Muttrah, which embodies the history of Muscat. I thought this would be a good marriage between the event and promoting the country,” Al Rawahi added.
“The feel of Port Sultan Qaboos, which looks like a very large car park, and all of the winches, cranes and containers brings the right atmosphere to this event,” he said. “The response from the public has been overwhelming. We started selling tickets for the event just two days ago and we are very pleased with the amount of bookings and enquiries.” Al Rawahi hopes that sporting events such as this one will give just the right push for many more in the future.
“Oman is a country with a lot of history, and because the terrain is different from the other GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] nations, Oman was not a difficult choice for Red Bull,” he explained.
“Oman has a lot to offer, and we have hosted the Middle East Rally Championship for many years. We have got many events in the future,” Al Rawahi added. “A lot of people do not know, but we are hosting the King of Desert and King of Nation drift championships and, for the first time, will hold the Desert Challenge Rally in February.”