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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 October 2018

WATCH: Aptly named UAE drift crew Lunatics by Nature shut down Jebel Hafeet

We speak to the trio, who took to one of the country's highest peaks to show off their sideways skills

Lunatics by Nature scaled Jebel Hafeet in their modified Nissan Silvias. Lunatics by Nature
Lunatics by Nature scaled Jebel Hafeet in their modified Nissan Silvias. Lunatics by Nature

UAE-based drifting crew Lunatics by Nature didn’t name themselves lightly – the evidence is to be seen in their new video, which involved them shutting down, then tearing up, Jebel Hafeet in Al Ain.

The trio are Dany Neville, Khalifa Al-Nahyan and Sultan Al-Qassimi. You quite probably have already heard of Neville, the UAE-raised Lebanese who has carved out a successful career as a DJ. Al-Nahyan and Al-Qassimi were both born and brought up in Abu Dhabi, and all three are speed-chasers with long histories in racing and extreme sports.

The collective, who formed in 2015, spoke to The National via email about Lunatics by Nature and how they put together the impressive sideways-action-filled video.

“Lunatics by Nature is more than just a drift team,” they say. “It's a lifestyle and an ethos. We want to face every challenge head-on and strive to better ourselves every time we get behind the wheel.

“We wanted to drift one of the UAE's highest peaks to not only show the world the beauty of Jebel Hafeet, but also to express our connection to the land in our own unique way. This country is where we were born and raised, and where we will continue to raise the bar for future generations in whatever direction we decided to go in.

“With the full backing of the Abu Dhabi Police General Headquarters, the police department of Al Ain, the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi and production support from [Dubai-based company] Collective, we were able to close off Jebel Hafeet and secure the location.

“Our vision was very well-received and supported – everyone got on board and for that we are grateful.”

With stories periodically in the news about drifting taking place on public roads, finding safe, legal places for drifting can be difficult.

“The official drift championship is the Emirates Drift Championship and its existence shows that there is a want for drifting events in the region,” LBN says. “However, finding practice nights can be challenging at times.

“We are seeing increasing support for our sport across the UAE. We are hoping that future drifters will have an opportunity to learn, practice and love the sport as much as we do in a safe controlled environment.

The trio used their own personal cars in the filming – three Nissan Silvias modified by Al-Qassimi, whom they call “the brains behind all our projects”. While casual observers might suggest similarities with LBN’s exploits and those of famed stunt driver Ken Block, not least thanks to variously collaborating with drinks company Monster Energy, LBN see themselves as offering something else.

“Ken Block drives a different type of vehicle and he has a different style (four-wheel drive). He is an amazing driver who inspired so much, but we do try to put our own twist to it.

Left to right, Sultan Al-Qassimi, Dany Neville and Khalifa Al-Nahyan, with their modified Nissan Silvias. Lunatics by Nature
Left to right, Sultan Al-Qassimi, Dany Neville and Khalifa Al-Nahyan, with their modified Nissan Silvias. Lunatics by Nature

“Being the only drift team in the region sponsored by Monster Energy, we are given an amazing global platform to share our craft. We work hard to find our own space in the sport and we do our best to stay true to ourselves as well as the roots of drifting.”

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