All-Omani show at Red Bull Drift Final

Oman dominate: 18-year-old Haitham al Hadidi clinched the title, favourite Ali al Balushi came second while Tariq al Shaihani was third

Anuroop A –

MUSCAT: It was an all-Omani show at the Red Bull Car Park Drift Final 2016 event in Muscat on Friday.
At the Port Sultan Qaboos, 18-year-old Haitham al Hadidi emerged the surprise champion over local favourite Ali al Balushi. Ali finished second. Another Omani in the final four, Tariq al Shaihani claimed the third spot to make it an Omani sweep of the podium.
Haitham al Hadidi, Ali al Balushi and Tariq al Shaihani had all made it the last four of the Final with impressive shows in the two initial rounds.
“It is a memorable win for me. I am so happy to claim the title in front of my home crowd. It is so special to achieve this during the celebrations of 46th National Day,” an elated Al Hadidi said.
Four-time Oman ‘King of Drift’ Ali al Balushi had an unimpressive start in the opening round, but came back strong in the second round to qualify to the last four.
Ali did his best in the last round, but Haitham al Hadidi was getting better and better and produced a perfect drift show in the final round to claim the top honours.
Ali, though disappointed not to win the title, was happy to finish on a strong note after a bad start.
“I am happy for my team-mates, it is a great result for the Sultanate,” he said.
HH Sayyid Taimur bin Asaad al Said, chief guest for the evening, presented the winners with the trophies.
Rafat Haroun of Jordan was the only foreign drifter to make it to the last four of the Final.
Among the side-acts at the event in Muttrah, stunt exhibitions by enduro rider Brian Capper and champion rally driver and MBC Driven presenter Abdo thrilled the packed crowd. The event was held in association with the Oman Automobile Association.
The challenging track was designed by Rally Champion and Red Bull athlete Abdo Feghali.
Ali al Balushi, fondly known as ‘Lalou’ finished second in last year’s final.
The competition was judged by a panel of professional motorsports athletes including Dai Yoshihara, Aleksandr Grinchuk, Kenshiro Gushi and Khalid al Manji.
Red Bull Car Park Drift Final 2016 marks the 7th edition of the event.
Each year a judging panel of 3-4 motorsports veterans and experts select the country winners who go on to compete in the Final where one overall winner crowned ‘King of Drift’. UAE drifter Ahmad Daham took the top spot in 2015 with his flawless performance in a Nissan Silvia closely followed 23 points behind by Omani Ali al Balushi.