Continued from Part 1 - read that first!
And so Ahmed Al Ameri got his chance to impress the Formula Drift organisers. The country’s best drifters auditioned for a chance to stage a demonstration alongside the American pros, and Ahmed was chosen as one of the top four to take part. And while at Yas Marina Circuit, he met the organisers of the SSK drift series held in the UAE.
“It had been held since 2008 but I had never heard about it. Anyway, I started participating and usually got first or second place in their events. Then in 2011 I heard about the Red Bull Car Park Drift event and I got first place in that too and headed to Lebanon for the final, although had bad luck over there.
“This year Mohammed Al Falasi has introduced the UAE Drift challenge, which is a new level of competition here. It’s a very high standard and it’s supporting the young guys in the UAE. I won a lot of rounds of UAE Drift and was named Drift King for 2012.”
Going forward, Ahmed wants more challenges, both in his professional drifting career and outside of his Toyota 86, which is being built as you read this as part of the two-year deal between Toyota and the Emirates Drifting Team.
“You need a good base car for drifting” Ahmed says. “The Toyota 86 has a good wheelbase, a low centre of gravity and amazing handling. Toyota is helping us to modify the car with financial support and the car itself. The car has to be set up for drifting, in the same way as you’d change the car to rally. The car has been stripped and it’ll be spot welded to strengthen the chassis and we’ve ordered an FIA roll cage, seats, suspension and new arms, wheels and brakes. Our target is 500-600whp. I’m not telling you what the engine is, but it will be a Toyota unit.”
The final car will be given its debut at the Red Bull Car Park drift event in September, which will take place either in Beirut, Lebanon, or in Jordan.
“In the next season I will compete in the UAE and around the GCC,” Ahmed says. ”Hopefully in 2014 we can participate in King of Europe. That will be easier than going to the US and it will not cost so much.” Al Ameri has been buoyed by the comments of Irish Formula Drift driver Darren McNamara, who after seeing Ahmed compete suggested he could make the top eight in European competition.
The Toyota Emirates Drifting Team, with Ahmed at the spearhead, is also trying to improve both the standard of UAE drifting and encourage young drivers with a passion for speed and going sideways to abandon the roads in favour of the track.
“In the UAE there are many young guys with sports cars – and even those without sports cars – that drive unsafely on public streets. We have a message to drive safe on the roads and take the extreme stuff to a safe environment. Here we have many young guys driving crazy on the public streets that could be champions one day. We need to channel them, tell them where they should go to do this. I hope they will listen to me, because I’m still young – I’m 28 – and I have been 20, 23, 26 recently and know how young men of that age think.
“Now we have a strategic partner in Al Futtaim Toyota, and are ready to deliver this message to the community. We’re going to do a series of special events over the next two years to improve awareness of safety and also incorporate the Toyota 86 Drift Challenge, using stock 86s with small prizes for the winners. The winner will also have a chance to have a taxi ride in our monster! We’ll be starting to do this in the last quarter of this year.”
So there we have it. Ahmed Al Ameri - a thoroughly nice chap, the new face of UAE drifting and, with a bit of luck, a force for road safety good. The best of luck to him. In the meantime, stay tuned to crankandpiston for more on the monstrous Toyota 86 currently under construction…