Last month the Red Bull Car Park Drift rocked Bahrain Mall. We caught up with Abdo Feghali, founder and judge, to find out more
Time Out Bahrain staff
What is drifting? Drifting has nothing to do with speed. Drifting started in Japan around 15-20 years ago. It is all about car control, driving techniques and car preparation. It’s about the driver controlling the car and not the car controlling the driver.
Is drifting the reason why Lewis Hamilton was arrested recently in Australia? Yep, but he was drifting on public roads.
Is it dangerous? When we talk about track racing, hill climbing, F1 racing, it is dangerous, even though we have a lot of security measures that we implement: the helmet, the cage inside the car, the suits are non-flammable. There is no high speed stuff in drifting, so it is not dangerous.
So then how do you practise? It’s so simple: every country has a karting track which you can rent, or you can find a big parking lot and take some cones to create roundabouts, S’s and other stuff and practise there in a very safe environment, so it is really easy.
How did you get into the sport? I was born into a family that was related to motorsports because my father used to race. As I was a kid, coming back from school I was much more interested in looking at the motor cars than studying. But motorsports are much more expensive that say football or tennis, it is a really high cost sport. Every tyre costs 500 Euros. Every litre of fuel costs $12. So that’s why we need a lot of sponsors.
What has been your biggest success so far? I have been winning consistently for the past 10 years. But it is the championships that I win which are most important. In 2003 I had the chance the chance to do the World Rally Championships, and I did Rally Catalunya on the Costa Brava in Spain, and then I had the chance to do Rally Monte Carlo on two occasions.
What’s the most expensive modification you have made? To make it a proper drifting car, first of all you have to modify the engine, suspension, brakes, and full body kit to reduce the weight of the car. It’s expensive, but the most expensive part is the engine, GBP17,000, which you have to replace on average twice a year.
Wow, that sounds prohibitively expensive! Yep, and this is a big problem for young drivers who have a lot of potential and yet can’t afford to get into the sport. You really have to get a sponsor, like Red Bull. You also have countries supporting their drivers, like Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Jordan.
How much of winning a race is about the car, and how much is about the driver? It is three things: the car, talent and luck. Without luck you can’t do anything.
How do you win the Red Bull Car Park Drift? What basis are are you judging on? The total score is 100. 70 percent is car control and awareness of the track. 10 percent is about the car, the sound it makes, and the smoke that comes from the tyres. The louder the sound and the more smoke the higher the points. The other 10 percent is on car preparation, how you have modified it and what it looks like. And the final 10 percent is the spectators’ reaction.
What would be your advice to people looking to get into motorsports? Don’t practice on public roads, and don’t put themselves and other people in danger. If you are putting people at risk then you will never get sponsored.