Yas Marina Circuit, UAE. crankandpiston catches up with Guinness World Record holder Abdo Feghali shortly after he completes his historic 11,180-metre continuous drift in a Chevrolet Camaro SS.
The Chevrolet Camaro SS pulls to a stop having completed 43 laps of the 260-metre course set up behind us, 18 laps more than required. Soon after, the man of the moment jumps from the driver’s seat and leaps into the arms of supporters and teammates. Local drifting legend Abdo Feghali has just broken a world record.
Shortly Feghali will be etched into the Guinness World Records as the man who drove a continuous drift of 11,180-metres at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, the longest in history and double that of the previous figure.
crankandpiston is on-hand to witness the historic event, and it’s not long before we’re asking the record holder his thoughts on emotions on his special day.
Abdo, how does it feel to know you’ve just put yourself into the Guinness Book of World Records?
“It’s a big relief! I can’t tell you the pressure I was under after the Guinness educator arrived. Sometimes he wasn’t happy with the way I was drifting, and I’m not too sure why, but that put a lot of pressure on me. Inside the car, I was counter steering all the time, but from his angle, he couldn’t see that. So he had to change his position and I had to adjust my style. Before I had been keeping about 10% in reserve in case I needed to counter steer a little more, but in the end I had to be right on the limit.
“But thank God, buddy, we pulled it off!”
What encouraged you to try for the record initially?
“Well Red Bull and myself, we’ve been organising the regional Red Bull Car Park Drift Championships for the last four years, so we thought, what’s next? Why not try and break the Guinness World Record for the longest continuous drift? This has been a dream of mine since I was a small child, when I used to read about these big events and achievements, and now I’m one of them!”
How much effort is required for a feat this size of this one?
“It’s a big challenge. It takes a lot of concentration for me inside the car and a lot of car control. Mentally and physically, it’s very draining. You have to work a lot at the wheel and the throttle to make sure the tyres last.
“At the end, I had a big vibration because of the tyres – you’re always going to lose big pieces of the rubber – and I had a big vibration. But pedal to the metal, as they say, and I just floored it.”
Presumably there’s been a huge amount of practice that’s gone into this…?
“Of course. Practice took up about three weeks. With the [Chevrolet] Camaro, we have the reinforced clutch, hydraulic handbrake, and stiffer suspension. But we can do 90% of this with a standard Camaro. It’s 100% road legal, and has the same V8 engine and same gearbox that came from the factory.
“Mostly though we were learning about the technology with the EasyDrift rings we were using [a new Driver Training System that facilitates driving on ice in order to preserve a tyre’s lifespan]. The biggest challenge is that the tyre doesn’t last. Every lap the heat expands more, the temperature gets higher, and then it will blow. That’s where the EasyDrift ring comes in.”
Of course, you didn’t just break the record. You doubled it. You made it look easy…
“[Laughs] After breaking the record, I was really happy, and I knew that I could put my magic in and produce something extra! As you can see, I doubled my speed at the end and was waving to the crowd and all my supporters. I was so happy, and it was time to have a little fun!”
What significance do you think this new record will have on drifting in the Middle East?
“Hopefully this shows the outside world in Europe, the States and especially Japan, where all the drifting started, that we are serious with this business. We’re improving day-by-day, and it shows that the region is always looking to go to the next level.”
A Guinness World Record is an amazing achievement, but you’ve been on the drifting and rallying scenes now for some time. Are there any other career highlights that stand out?
“I was born with drifting and racing in my blood, and that was always my target in life. Okay, I started in business marketing, but I knew that I was going to end up somewhere behind the wheel and competing.
“I’ve been sponsored by Red Bull for the past 12 years now. Together we’ve won 18 national and international championships, including being crowned Lebanese Hill Climb and Rally Champion, Middle East Hill Climb Champion for four consecutive years – no-one has done that before – and Lebanese Speed Test Champion. We’ve done a lot together!”
How exactly did the relationship with Red Bull get started?
“Well when they entered the Middle East, they wanted to have a motorsport athlete from the region. So I was picked up – I was the ‘chosen one’! – and I’m very proud of that. And as I’ve mentioned we’ve had a huge amount of success together.
“Then back in 2008 I came up with an idea with Red Bull to do Car Park drift. Drifting didn’t really exist in our region at that time, but Red Bull and I worked to put the first event together. It’s made for amateurs, we don’t need big budgets or big tracks to do this. It’s all done in a car park.
“We started the Car Park Drift in Lebanon nationally for two years, and I was organising that. Then in 2010 we went regional and have done so ever since”
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