MUSCAT, FEB 22 - James Deane continued his “love affair” with Oman International Drift Championship (OIDC) by storming to a hat-trick overall title at the Oman Automobile Association (OAA) Drift Arena on Friday night.
The Irishman, fondly called as ‘The Machine’ for his clinical exploits at the twin-drift battles, needed nothing less than the top spot to ensure the overall crown in the third round after his last-16 exit in the second round.
Round two winner Sebastian Peter Fontijn was hot on the heels of the Round 1 winner, but Deane’s perfect drifting from qualifying to final battles accumulated points for him as he emerged champion with 84 points.
The Netherlands driver, who had a runner-up finish in the opening round, claimed second overall with 73 points. Another Irishman Alan Donal Hynes underlined his drifting skills by taking the third place with 55 points.
The same drivers were the top-three podium finishers in Round 3 also.
“I love to come and compete here at the Oman Automobile Association. I’m very happy to claim third straight overall title at OIDC. The fans were brilliant and the competition is getting better and better. I had to bring my best performance to take the top spot,” Deane told the Observer after winning the title.
Sebastian was satisfied with his efforts in the high-voltage final round.
“The championship race was between me and Deane. I had put in my best efforts and I am satisfied with the podium finish in my debut Middle East race,” the Dutchman said.
Wonder kid Nikolass ‘Niknak’ Bertons, who won the second spot in Round 2, was edged out by Hynes in the quarterfinal. The 14-year-old had become one of crowd favourites after his sensational drift battles.
SAMI ON TOP
Oman’s Sami al Shaibani won the overall top honours in the Mena and National categories with 53 points.
Tariq al Shaihani ended second with 50 points and Haitham al Hadidi claimed third with 43 points.
Sami, Tariq and Haitham made up the overall top-three podium in the National category too.
In Round 3, Tariq finished top in Mena and National categories followed by Haitham and Sami respectively.
Tariq, who was the lone Omani to enter the last four in the third round, missed out to Hynes in the battle for third place.
Deane beat Tariq and Sebastian edged out Hynes in the semifinals.
OAA Chairman Brigadier (retd) Salim al Maskari gave away the trophies in different categories to conclude the three-round OIDC 2020.
In Round 3, a total of 39 drivers tested their skills in the qualifying on Thursday to finalise the top 32.
OAA General Manager Suleiman al Rawahi noted that apart from the overall improvement in the standard of the OIDC, the Omani drivers have made rapid strides in the competition.
“Three years before, none of the Omani drivers were able to challenge the top international drivers. Now as we conclude the third edition, the local drivers have improved leaps and bounds and are performing on par with the top international drivers. Some of them have podium finishes in the main category too,” he said.