Mohammad Al Mansouri’s Nissan Silvia S13 put on a memorable show to claim the crown at the Red Bull Car Park Drift UAE qualifier and earn a spot in the final in Kuwait.
The 27-year-old from X-Unit Racing Team improved his total in each of the three heats to earn the top spot on the podium, while team-mate and UAE drifter Mahmoud Al Kamali took second and Jordan’s Jawad Tuffaha finished third.
In total, 44 drivers put their drifting skills on display at Dubai City Walk’s Green Planet on Friday, with the challengers taking on a course that included boxes, gates, the pendulum and a new obstacle, ‘The Buzzer Gate’.
“There were many drifters there, driving carefully and had a lot of power in their cars,” Al Mansouri said.
“There were a lot of drifters who were capable, it was a very good challenge.”
Red Bull champion and legendary drifter Abdo Feghali was also on hand to dazzle the crowd as the event returned to Dubai after taking place in Ajman last year.
The drifters were judged based on their performance on the obstacles, while style points were awarded for the look and design of the car, tire smoke and car sound.
The judging panel included motoring expert Abdulla Jaafari, local auto designer Anthony Jannarelly, Sport360° editor Hasan Draz and Issa Al Sahmsi, who represented the Emirates Motor Sports
After feeling out the course in the first heat and netting a modest 277 points, Al Mansouri applied his newfound familiarity with the course by completing nearly flawless runs in the second and third heat, earning 355 and 364 points respectively.
“In the first heat, the track was very small. In heat two, we learned how to do it,” Al Mansouri said.
“After doing it, you listen carefully and know how to do it. That’s why in heat two we were very careful.”
Team-mate Al Kamali similarly peaked towards the end, manoeuvring the course and avoiding the barriers by just inches to come a hair short of first place.
With the UAE holding the last qualifier before the final in Kuwait on December 8, the list of top drifters is assembled to battle it out for the title of ‘King of Drift’.
Al Mansouri knows the competition for the ultimate prize will be stiff, but is looking forward to representing his home country and showing out in three weeks’ time.
“We will repair the engine in the car next week. We will check all of the car,” he said. “There will be many champions there and I’ll try to challenge them.”
Following their success in Shanghai earlier this month, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s ace driver Harry Tincknell hopes ‘history can repeat itself’ with victory in Saturday’s Bahrain 6 Hours.
Tincknell and his team-mate Andy Priaulx, sealed their second GTE-Pro class triumph of the FIA World Endurance Championship in the six hours race in China. And the pair will be back behind the wheel for the season-finale with still everything to play for.
Chip Ganassi Racing are third in the LMGTE Pro Teams standings with 131 points, behind Germany’s Team Manthey (133) and leader Italy’s AF Corse (146).
Tincknell, 26, is fully aware of the task ahead but says the Shanghai win gives them a lot of confidence going into the race in the kingdom.
“We know we want to win the championship of course and we’re 15 points back so realistically we probably need to win the race,” he said.
“But we’re just going to go out there like every other race and do the best job we can. We had some races today where we absolutely nailed it and finished fourth and that’s the maximum we could do in races that we could’ve won.
“We just have to do the maximum we can and walk away from the track on Saturday night knowing that we gave everything that we could. It’s going to be very difficult because it’s going to be very hot in Bahrain.
“It’s going to be a full team effort and will need the support of the mechanics and the strategy will have to be spot on. As we proved in Shanghai, we can do it and let’s hope history repeats itself in Bahrain.”
For Priaulx, he will look back at the season with a lot of positives.
“There’s been 12 months of racing and intense pressure and to still be in it, is something we should all be proud as team,” he said.
“We won two championship rounds this year but the most impressive thing is winning rounds when under pressure like last weekend in Shanghai and we delivered as a team.”
The 22-year-old Brit, who was crowned the 2017 IndyCar Rookie of the Year and finished third at the coveted Indy500 in his maiden season with Dale Coyne Racing, has now switched his allegiances.
He will drive the No.10 NTT DATA Honda next year and team-up with New Zealander Scott Dixon, who has four IndyCar titles to his name, as well as an Indy500 crown and 41 race victories overall.
“This is truly an honor to have the opportunity to drive for Chip, his organization and to represent NTT DATA. Chip runs one of the biggest and best motor racing teams in the world, and equally as important, is a proven winner across each series he competes in from Le Mans to Indianapolis and beyond,” Jones, who captured the Indy Lights title in 2016, said.
He continued: “I want to get up to speed quickly and learn as much as I can. Scott is a legend in the sport, and to get the chance to team with him is an amazing opportunity. I think I’m joining the team at a perfect time when the playing field is being reset with common aero kits, and everyone is adjusting to a new formula. I’m really looking forward to getting in the car and getting underway with our 2018 campaign.”
Chip Ganassi, the team’s owner, spoke of his admiration for the young Brit after the remarkable start to his career: “We’ve been following Ed’s career for quite some time now and are pleased we are able to add him to strengthen our line-up. He has a year of IndyCar racing under his belt now and is the type of young talent that we were looking for. We can’t wait to get him on the race track.”
— Ed Jones (@Edjonesracing) October 25, 2017