Drift UAE Profile. Mohammad Al Falasi

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Perhaps more so than circuit racing – with the possible exception of the Dubai 24 Hours and, to a lesser extent, the Gulf 12 Hours – drifting is a discipline that now attracts enormous interest both regionally and internationally. But while drifting as a competition is still considered a little ‘yobbish’, the influx of banner events like the Red Bull Car Park Drift plus support from manufacturers – with Toyota establishing the Emirates Drift Team and Ford backing behind the Al Jazirah Racing Team – demonstrate a hot business model in the works. One that is growing quickly.

“In the end, drifting is an entertainment. It’s not really motorsport. Crowd involvement is high, speed is high and the excitement is high, and it’s something that big companies are starting to understand. When we first started drifting a while ago, there were four or five drivers booking the Jebel Ali racetrack. Then when Formula D came to the Yas Marina Circuit two years ago, that was a big push. Local fans saw drifting up close that they’d seen on TV and read about. That made a big leap, and from four to six drivers we suddenly became 12 to 15 drivers, and then more drift nights were being organised to support this new interest.

“Then Red Bull Car Park Drift started, and that attracted a lot of interest. The concept was a little different. It has it’s own unique formula and is very entertaining. And importantly, most of the qualifiers from the latest round in Al Ain are regular participants in Drift UAE. It all helps increase interest.”

Due to complete its first season this weekend – and with Abdulhadi Al-Qahtani expected to seal the crown – Drift UAE already has some ambitious plans for 2013, aided and inspired by Mohammad’s various visits across Europe, Asia and the United States. With summer fast approaching and the barometer mercury set to shatter the glass, there’s plenty of work still to do to see how Drift UAE can be improved for 2013/2014.

“In summer last year I went to the King of Europe competition, and this year I’ll be doing a tour of other series across the world in the hope of adapting new technologies and judging criteria. This year for instance we introduced the twin drifting battle, which went down very well.

“We have good relationships with organisations around the world, so next year we’re planning on bringing drivers across from Europe to compete in the UAE during their off-season. At the same time, we will be sending our drivers to compete in Europe to elevate their skills too. Hopefully soon we will be announcing new Drift series across the Middle East as well as one big regional competition. Once the formula is set, within a few months we will have a clearer picture.”

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