In a brilliant drift performance with a hired car, Haitham al Hadidi took home the top honours in the Oman National Drift Championship Round 1, organised by the Oman Automobile Association (OAA) at its drift arena late on Friday.
Haitham outsmarted Ahmed al Amri in the final to clinch the winner’s trophy. Another top contender Tariq al Shaibani got the better of Riyadh al Mabsali to finish third in the play-off.
Haitham faced difficulties before the event as his car was hit with technical snag. However, the determined Omani youngster got into the race with a car hired from fellow contender Riyadh al Mabsali, who in the process ended fourth in the event.
“The title win in the opening round is a great confidence booster. It will give good energy for me in the season,” a pumped-up Al Hadidi told the Observer after taking the title.
The twin-drift challenge was introduced by the OAA for the first time for the local championship. “This format will give good advantage in the upcoming international drift events,” Haitham said.
Haitham, who rated the semifinal duel with Tariq al Shaibani as the toughest of the day, looks to compete in Europe next year provided he gets a sponsor.
Second-placed Ahmed al Amri said he was satisfied with his outing in the opening.
“My performance was very well balanced. There were few mistakes in the final with Haitham too. Overall, it was a satisfying performance,” Al Amri said.
Falahil Omar al Falahil, board member of the Oman Automobile Association, was the chief guest of the night and gave away trophies to the top three drivers.
“The drivers had put in a good competition today. It is heartening to see the twin-drift challenge introduced for local drivers by the OAA. This will help them to prepare well for the international competitions,” Al Falahil said.
“I congratulate the winners of the first round. Those missing on top are sure to bounce back in the coming rounds,” the OAA board member added.
OAA Managing Director Suleiman al Rawahi coordinated the smooth conduct of the opening round of the Oman drift season.
“We have ensured a safe and successful competition through various safety measures. Happy to note it has ended well. Thanks to our marshals and volunteers,” Al Rawahi said.
He said the OAA had decided to start the twin-drift for local championship so that the drivers get enough exposure before the International Drift Challenges to be hosted later in the year.
“We have so many talented drivers. The good standard of Omani drivers prompted us to start the twin-drift challenge,” the OAA managing director said.
There were a total of 20 drivers registered for the first round, but only 16 could start after clearing the technical issues. Out of that, 12 drivers qualified to the first knockout round.
Eight drivers were then selected for a last-8 knockout and four made it to the last-four round.
Ahmed al Amri, Haitham al Hadidi, Tariq al Shaibani and Riyadh al Mabsali were the final four drivers of the first round of Oman National Drift event.
Red Bull Car Park Drift regional champion Rafaat al Yahyaei was eliminated in the first knockout round. Al Yahyaei could not make it past eventual fourth-place finisher Riyadh al Mabsali.