Sunday,23 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1269, (5 - 11 November 2015)
Sunday,23 September, 2018
Issue 1269, (5 - 11 November 2015)

Ahram Weekly

The new king of sideways

Egypt has a new car drift champion but not without some anxious moments. Mohamed Abdel-Razek relates the full story

Al-Ahram Weekly

Some battles do not necessarily require high tech heavy weapons worth hundred thousands of dollars to win. If you can’t lift it, if you can’t find the trigger, you lose. Unfortunately, most of the big drifting names in Egypt insist on ignoring this fact. Sometimes a wake-up is needed. Ahmed Desouki provided just that, but he did it the hard way when he stood in the middle of the battlefield and taught all the big drifters in Egypt a life lesson.

At the start, on Friday 23 October, at Tolip Hotel on the Suez Road, the Car Park Drift (CPD) organisers announced they were cancelling this year’s contest “because one of the lighting towers collapsed a couple of hours before the race”.

It was difficult for the majority of fans who travelled from all over Egypt to accept such an excuse, just hours before the race was to start. Scepticism abounded as the scenario appeared to have too many question marks hovering over it. After all, a light tower can be re-erected in little time.

At this point, friction led to sparks among the racers. Some wanted to withdraw from the CPD sympathising with the fans angered by the cancellation and what they deemed was a poor explanation.

 Eventually, the organisers decided to bring back the contest on Tuesday 27 October, following what one contest judge confirmed to Al-Ahram Weekly as “constant pressure” from the racers.

“I drift to entertain my fans. If they’re not happy so my presence inside the track makes no sense,” said Ahmed Tarek, the 2014 CPD champion. Tarek was one of the leading drivers who decided to withdraw from the CPD, but according to the rules, if he did he would have been banned from participating in the CPD for good. Accordingly, Tarek and his fellow drivers decided to take the wiser decision and participate.

So on Tuesday at 12 noon, all the drifters started warming up the crowd by parading together around the track, showing off their drifting machines to their fans who were already on fire. The exhaust with the anti-lag bang were, put together, the right touch that drove every motor-head in the arena crazy, just enough before the battle kicked off.

The judging system had a revolutionary change this season. Instead of choosing a racing experienced judging panel like in previous years, the organisers decided to allow for a variety this season. On the panel was Nasser Abou Heif, an experienced driver, Mohamed Badawi, an official from the FIA (Federation Internationale De l’Automobile), Ahmed Al-Wakil, an automotive journalist, and Mohamed Al-Shahawi, a motor-sport enthusiast.

Sixteen drifters were selected from a total of top participants to undertake the heated competition. The judges evaluated the drivers based on their continuous drift skills, going sideways with their cars as much as possible with full control while completing specific tasks. The judges also looked at tire smoke, car looks and car sound. If a driver scored on lots of those, judges would give him all the points he needed.

As everything was about to get rolling, the chronic karma of Amin Elewa and his E36-1jz showed up. Amine’s drive shaft broke first, killing off his Dubai dream, and laying him down on a couch, like last year, in the role of a regular fan.   

 It was obvious from the start that the very tight track, exactly like CPD 2011, would play a decisive role in this CPD edition. Tight tracks are not usually friendly with over-powered machines over 300whp. Such mighty vehicles always need some space to release most of their power on high gear ratios compared to machines with modest power, which are more comfortable going sideways on low gear ratios.

Rami Serri, the three-time CPD champion and the most successful Egyptian drifter of all time, and Ahmed Tarek, the 2014 champion, had a tough time from the beginning. Serri’s E46-M50Turbo gave him a gentle hint right from the first heat, effectively telling him, ‘we are not going to finish this’.

But Serri went on to the second heat hoping his horse could withstand his right foot. Unfortunately, the timing belt broke of, ruling him out of the competition, and forcing him to join Elewa in the stands.

Tarek’s car seemed in pretty good shape, but the problem this year came from Tarek’s lack of concentration, causing him to commit more than three route mistakes during his first run, exceeding the maximum of three mistakes. That disqualified him early from the contest. “The clashes that happened before the race with the fans had a negative effect on me. I didn’t have any sort of concentration while on the track,” Tarek said.

The ruling out of top draws like Serri, Tarek and Elewa from the early stages of the event greatly limited the competition for the remaining drifters.

All eyes then turned to Haitham Samir, the 2014 runner-up and third in the Middle East, as he made sure to appear in a new suit this season with his stunning new drifting machine, the Rx8, which paid him back handsomely with excellent points on the car’s looks and sound.

Moataz Atef, with his lively E30, had a great opportunity with Samir, along with Hossam Suleiman and Hisham Al-Khatib to win the CPD 2015. But that’s when it happens, when you don’t see it coming. A young lad named Ahmed Desouki with a simple naturally aspirated E30 drifted his car, drawing a masterpiece of racing lines from the first heat with almost no way of losing points except for his car’s looks.

Desouki kept his pace constant waiting for his opponents to fall. The start came from Al-Khatib, who was doing a great job playing with his Z4 until suddenly he missed an order. He went back to it but lost enough points to keep him out of the top four.

The same thing happened to Atef who spun out of control trying to hit the clipping point with the rear end of his car. Suleiman went out in the third heat due to a technical problem in the car’s steering system.

Despite performing constantly clean runs throughout the heats, showing off his unique red smoking tyres especially in the third heat, Samir missed the clipping point in the third heat costing him several points. That’s exactly the opening Desouki was looking for. As he started the third heat, every drifting fan in the arena cheered his majestic performance going through every order with perfection until he came to the cutting edge part of the whole track, the clipping point.

The whole arena blasted with wild joy at the last sector of heat three, after Desouki was able to hit the clipping point with his rear wing, the part which gave him the advantage over Samir, enough to win him the contest.

“I had no pressure on me. I did my part and I thank God he made it happen,” Desouki said, also thanking his mother and brother for their support.

The new drift king will be preparing to represent Egypt in the Middle East finals, along with his compatriot and runner-up Samir among nine other nations on 20 November. Desouki is expected to find a more competitive drifting machine and Samir will probably participate with his new RX8.

The overall standings were Desouki first, Samir second and Atef third.

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