x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Catch the drift at the Corniche

The Red Bull Car Park Drift competition will delight fans for the second year.

ABU DHBAI // The smell of burning rubber and the sound of screeching tyres will permeate the air tonight on the Corniche.

The qualifying round of the UAE Red Bull Car Park Drift will start at 6pm on a specially built track.

Drifting, which involves cars skidding and sliding around a course, is increasing in popularity and the Emirates is hosting the event for the second year.

The finals will be held in Lebanon later this year, but for now 25 hopefuls will fire up their engines and showcase their driving skills in the capital.

The track was designed by Abdo Feghali, the Middle East Hill Climb Champion, who is also the main judge.

Drivers will try to appeal to the crowds and impress the jury with their ability to manipulate their vehicles with their handbrakes and special turning techniques.

"The first and main factor is the art of drift with 70 per cent of the overall grade given by the jury," Mr Feghali said. A roaring engine accounts for 10 per cent of the points as does a positive reaction from the crowd.

Faisal al Sahlawi, the head of the Yas Marina Circuit Racing School, said the sport was not recognised by the FIA, the world motorsport governing body.

"It is not timed nor is it wheel-to-wheel racing. It is more of a freestyle sport," he said.

"If you do it on the street, it's reckless driving. Here, they make their own tracks and have fun in a controlled environment."

The Yas Marina Circuit also hosts its own drifting events and Mr al Sahlawi said he had noted that the sport was drawing bigger crowds.

"This year we expected 3,000 to watch our own drifting competition and we got 5,000 people," he said.

"We opened half a grandstand and extended it a bit more to cope with the crowds."

eharnan@thenational.ae