Drift UAE Finale. Yas Marina Circuit. Abu Dhabi, UAE

Abdulhadi Al-Qahtani drifts to victory in the Drift UAE Finale held at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, UAE

The final round of the Drift UAE Championship cemented Abdulhadi Al-Qahtani’s dominance in the Pro Drift category with the Saudi taking both number one spot and clinching this year’s title. As the first champion of the professional drift series in the United Arab Emirates, Al-Qahtani has earned himself a place in the history books.

Throughout the season Abdulhadi fought off stiff drift competition with his closest rival being Al Jazirah Ford teammate Muath Al-Essa. Both Saudi drifters consistently brought their game to the UAE with the Ford Mustangs winning four of the six rounds. Muath’s third place in the final round secured him second place overall in the Pro Drift Championship.

Splitting the KSA duo was Ahmed Al Ameri in the Toyota Emirates Drift Team smoke machine. Ahmed struggled earlier in the season with technical issues during development of the 2JZ powered 86 but seems to have the brute finally hooked-up. With Al Ameri grabbing second place and clearly back in the game, next season might just see the Toyota reign in the Mustangs’ dominance.

Interesting to note how the top three positions from this round have been taken by manufacturer-sponsored teams. They have not been allowed to run away with the season though. Hatim Natto in the Mountain Dew RX-7 has been on a charge but was on the receiving end of a bonnet latch malfunction during one of his runs. True to form, Natto kept the FD pinned and sideways while peering through the gap left by his flipped up bonnet. Bonus points for the ‘Spirit of Drift’ award, in my opinion.

Salman Abdullah has also stepped up to the Pro Drift challenge with one win under his belt already this season while Samer Khadra, Yousef Al Romaithi and Mohammad Al Romaithi have been consistently punching above their weight.

For many of the Pro drifters, this year has been a steep learning curve. Car development has been an ongoing mission to remain competitive as has the acquisition of new skills required for tandem drift battles. The end of the season is not the end of this development however, as the Pro Drifters will be facing a two-pronged attack when Drift UAE returns for 2013/2014.

Due to the success of Drift UAE this year, it has attracted international recognition. As a result, the series may have a decidedly international flavour with professional drifters from Europe and beyond participating and bringing the challenge to regional drift. Some of the drifters from both the Street and Modified categories will also be migrating to Pro Drift next season ensuring that there is no resting on laurels for the current top dogs.

Thanks to Drift UAE and Yas Marina Circuit.