Round 1 runner-up Sebastian Peter Fontijn stepped up his performance a notch to claim the top honours in the second round of Oman International Drift Championship 2020 at the Oman Automobile Association’s Drift Arena on Friday night.
The Netherlands’ driver edged out 14-year-old Nikolass ‘Niknak’ Bertans in a thrilling final in front of a capacity crowd. The Latvian teenage prodigy almost matched the lanky Dutchman in the final but missed out when his wheel spun in the second and final heats of the title-clash.
With the win, Fontijn powered ahead in the race for overall title as first round winner James Deane from Ireland retired with a technical issue in the last-16 battle against Kuwait’s Ali Maksheed.
“I am happy to get over some stiff competition and take the round two title. Nikolass ‘Niknak’ was brilliant in the final. He has a great future,” Fontijn told the Observer.
Niknak expressed his delight in reaching the final.
“I am happy to perform my best in the OIDC 2020 among a highly-competitive field of drivers. This performance will give great confidence in my career ahead,” the teenager said.
Oman’s Tariq al Shaihani, who finished second in the first round, lost out to Niknak in the last-16 duel. Another Omani Haitham al Hadidi, who finished third in Mena and national categories last round, could not start his last 32 contest against Mazin al Shaibani due to technical issues to his car.
Oman’s Sami al Shaibani was the best-performing local driver in the second round. Sami was the lone Omani in the semifinals. The Oman Air pilot lost to Fontijn in the last-four match-up and missed out closely in the third-place play-off against Ali Maksheed.
Sami gave away after the twin-drift duel was stretched to another round as nothing separated the drivers in the regular heats. In the national category, Sami deservedly claimed the top spot followed by Rafaat al Yahyai and Ali al Balushi. In the Mena category, Ali Maksheed took the top honours followed by Sami and Rafaat.
Sami said he is satisfied with his form in the second round.
“Though I missed out in the semifinal, I am happy to perform well in the round. I am confident to make another consistent performance in the concluding round,” the Omani driver said. There were 23 foreign drivers and nine Omanis in the top 32 field after the participation of 54 drivers in the qualification on Thursday. Drifting technical analyst Yousuf al Herais opined that the second round saw the opening up of the overall title race.
“Sebastian Fontijn could race ahead in terms of overall points after James Deane retired over technical issues.”
“Nicholas Niknak was the star of the day with stunning drift performances. He is a technically sound drifter too. Today’s classic duel was between Fontijn and Niknak,” Al Herais said.
Omani commentator Habeeb al Zawawi said Sami al Shaibani and Ali Maksheed put up thrilling show to entertain the crowd.
The third and final round of OIDC will be held on February 20 and 21.