MUSCAT: The Oman International Drift Championship (OIDC) is back after a two-year-gap due to Covid-19 related situation.
The fourth edition of the much-followed international drift action will enliven the Oman Automobile Association’s (OAA) Muscat Drift Arena from January 20 onwards.
The first round of OIDC will be held on January 20 and 21.
The second round is scheduled for February 10 and 11, while the third and final round is slated for February 17 and 18.
A total of 54 drivers will be participating in this year’s competition which include 14 Omanis, 24 drifters from the Middle East, and 16 other international drifters make up the list.
OAA Chairman Brigadier (Retd) Salim Ali Khalifa al Maskary said this is a welcome relief for all those related to motor sports that the exciting events have returned after the challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are delighted to organise our premier events after a two-year uncertainty. Our team is fully prepared to stage the international events complying with the medical protocols and other safety measures,” Al Maskary told Oman Observer on Monday.
The event will be sponsored by Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, Redbull Mobile and Zestino.
DRIFTING CHAMPS RETURN
Top drifters have confirmed their participation in the OIDC 2022.
Last edition runner-up Sebastian Peter Fontijn will be one of the favourites this year in the absence of Ireland’s defending champion James Deane and Latvian teen sensation Nikolass ‘Niknak’ Bertons.
Local drifters in the challenge include Haitham al Hadidi, Ali Al Balushi and Tariq al Shaihani among others.
OAA Managing Director Suleiman Al Rawahi exuded confidence from the previous successful editions of the international drift championships.
“We have been conducting these top events successfully earlier. But the OAA have well prepared to stage such tournaments in the new situation. We also want to showcase the Omani talent in the sport as well as organising such big events,” Al Rawahi told a press conference to announce the event at the OAA on Monday.
Alongside the OIDC, a training course for drift judges in coordination with global motorsports body FIA will be organised.
“We will be coordinating with the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) to host a judge training course during the event, which will be used as a platform to train judges in the region. This is an additional act we are trying to promote since the sport has become very popular in the country and is growing fast, so we need to qualify judges who would be able to manage the competitions,” Suleiman said.
Mentioning the OAA’s efforts to promote local drivers, Al Rawahi said: “The OAA has always been proactive to developing the level of our local championship. We had managed to attract top international drivers and the local drivers will gain a great exposure by competing with the top-class drivers in the world.”
SPECTATORS TO BE ADMITTED
Spectators those who adhere to the Covid protocols will be admitted for the event, Fahmi al Busaidy, race director of OIDC, said.
The spectators should have taken two doses of vaccine and should wear masks and observe social distancing, Al Busaidy said.
“Spectators are expected to show proof of their two vaccines doses but drivers have to go through a separate Covid checklist to be able to compete in the event,” he added.
For the qualifying series, regular and family tickets will be available for RO 1.
For main race, regular and family tickets for RO 3 and VIP tickets will cost RO 15.
The reception at OAA facility will be opened from 9am to 9pm every day.
International drivers: From El Salvador - Nasser Al Harbali; from Japan - Kisaragi Awano, Tsubasa Takizawa and Tsuyoshi Arakaki (Toni); from Lithuania - Andrius Vasiliauskas and Benekditas Cirba; from Malaysia - Choong Yew Hing and Muhammad Zaiham Hamdan; from Netherlands - Clint Oort and Sebastian Fontijn; from Pakistan - Talha bin Azhar; from the UK - Martin Richards and Steve Baggsy (Stephen Biagioni); and from Ukraine - Dmitriy Illyuk, Rostyslav Rarahovskyi and Serhii Kremet, from USA - Nicholas Solomon and Noor Daoud.
MENA drivers: From Jordan - Ahmad Daham, Hamzeh Naamneh and Moaid Marwan Mahmoud Yousef; from KSA - Khalid Al Zayed and Turki Alzeer; from Kuwait - Ali Mustafa Makseedm, Hamad Al Hajeri and Mesyar Nawaf Abushaibah; from Lebanon - Ayman Bou Fakher El Dine, Hussein Mohamad Messelmani, Ihab Ghassan Abou Falah, Rabih Al Awar and Samer Sabeh; from Qatar - Mohammed Al Jabir and Saoud Al Attiyah; from Syria - Rami Zabdih; from UAE - Abdulla Ali Al Shehhi, Hamzeh Naamneh, Hazaa Al Hosani, Jaseem Allaghai, Mohamed Hassan Al Mansoori and Yousuf Al Herais; and
Omani drivers: Abdullah Al Mamari, Ahmed Al Amri, Ali Al Balushi, Ali Al Shaihani, Haitham Al Hadidi, Ibrahim Al Azri, Mohammed Shaikhan Al Abri, Mundher Al Manji, Muthasim Al Haruni, Nawaf Al Wahaibi, Riyadh Al Mabsali, Said Salim Al Badwawi, Tariq Al Shaihani and Waqqas Al Balushi.