Sunday,22 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1233, (12 - 18 February 2015)
Sunday,22 July, 2018
Issue 1233, (12 - 18 February 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Stop the car

The second round of the Egyptian Drifting Championship was cancelled midway after the organisers were told their papers were not in order, reports Mohamed Abdel-Razek

Al-Ahram Weekly

Cairo International Stadium, known for football games and the stars who have graced its field, has recently started to be known for another sport: car racing, especially, the newborn Egyptian Drifting Championship. Some were calling it the comeback of motorsport in Egypt, following the days of the F1 Grand Prix back in 1947. They weren’t wrong about that after a great first round of the Egyptian Drifting Championship. Everyone, including fans, drivers and sponsors were unanimous that it was the best racing seen in Egypt since the old good days.  

STT Race Management and Pixels were the major players that went into organising the first round of the championship. Both were responsible for organising literally everything that had to do with the race itself and the event as a whole, in addition to managing the sponsors. The efforts by the Automobile and Touring Club of Egypt were minimal but vital at the same time. To be more precise, the club was responsible for finalising the official paper work, starting from the racers licenses to observing rules and regulations and ending up with the most important of them all: issuing all security clearances to hold the race.

6 February was the date. Cairo International Stadium was the venue. An unusually sunny Friday heating up 4,000 motor heads. Nevertheless, the sweating thirsty fans looked forward to a rewarding intense drifting session that would allow them to forget whatever hardships they may have experienced during the week.

The race started with heat one, with some prominent drivers trying to crossover their bad karma. Haitham Samir struggled on the starting line, breaking his car’s rear axle. Rami Serri went the wrong way inside the track, claiming he was misled by the marshal. The mix-ups were alarming but perhaps not surprising given the delay in the race schedule compared to the first round of the championship.

Approaching 4pm, and heat one still not finished, the race suddenly stopped. The organisers gathered in the middle of the track, announcing that for security reasons all fans must leave and that the race will have to be cancelled due to security matters. For the spectators, what immediately came to mind were the daily terrorist bombs they hear about, but this time it was a little bit closer.  

There was a bombshell, but in a different form. “We suddenly received orders from the officials of the stadium that we had to cancel the race immediately because we don’t have the security permissions,” said Haitham Fardi, STT race management member. The obvious question -- why didn’t stadium officials check that they needed security permission before collecting ticket money and renting space for STT and Pixels to organise the race – could not be immediately answered by the officials.

“The Automobile and Touring Club of Egypt is the responsible body that should secure all the clearances and approvals for us, but it seems that even they can’t get their job done,” Bassel Hazem, an STT member, stated.

Imagine you’re a driver who spent a fortune trying to get his car ready for the race which ends like this. Or a middle class Egyptian motorsports fan who saved LE75 to buy a ticket and maybe another LE30 for a snack during the race.

The immediate questions were whether the sport could return from this knockout and whether sponsors have the courage to put their money in the sport after this botch up.

The writer is a freelance journalist.

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