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After 10 regional qualifiers across the Middle East and North Africa it’s finally time to crown another King Of Drift. The grand finale of Red Bull Car Park Drift – the premier drifting series in the region – took place on September 1 in Istanbul, Turkey.

Drifting might be one of fastest-growing disciplines in motorsport, but for many petrol heads, it’s still a brand-new sport. So ahead of the rubber-burning cacophony that is Red Bull Car Park Drift, we run through what makes the series one of drifting’s most exciting competitions and explain how it differs to other series.

What is drifting?
Despite their many differences, Red Bull Car Park Drift and the Drift Masters European Championship evolved from the same concept. In late-1970s and early-’80s Japan, daredevil drivers started putting their cars to the test on twisting mountain roads, accelerating out of corners earlier and earlier to turn their cars sideways. This quickly morphed into a popular sport in Japan and huge crowds have gathered to watch organised competition ever since.
Slowly but surely, this fast, noisy and technical discipline has caught on around the world and is currently spreading like wildfire across Europe and the Middle East.

Is Red Bull Car Park Drift the same as the Drift Masters European Championship, then?
Not really. In Europe, drifting gave rise to the Drift Masters European Championship – an established series that, without compromising on excitement or danger, has organised the drifting concept into a championship series that involves an element of racing (but not overtaking). Red Bull Car Park Drift, on the other hand, is its edgier counterpart.
Inspired by the amateur, do-it-yourself drifting scene that took place (mostly illegally) in tightly enclosed Hong Kong car parks in the early-2000s, Red Bull Car Park Drift is an attempt to retain some of the underground spirit and artistry of those drifting rebels.
The Middle East and North African-based series started life, as you might have guessed from the name, in car parks. Like the Citymall car park in El Bauchrieh, Lebanon, which hosted the first-ever Red Bull Car Park Drift in 2008, won by Michel Feghali.
Although the series’ popularity has meant a move away from car parks, it remains a great leveller, pitting underground drifters against more experienced divers and rally stars.

What’s the format of Red Bull Car Park Drift?
In the Drift Masters European Championship, drivers take two solo runs before a final battle with another driver, with points awarded for speed, style, and both angle and line of drift. It’s all quite straightforward really.
Red Bull Car Park Drift is, in comparison, completely bonkers. Inspired by those Hong Kong drifters navigating the tight corners and concrete posts and bollards of multi-storey car parks, this series is all about speeding around obstacle-strewn courses and performing drifting ‘tricks’ and tasks with names like the ‘pendulum’, the ‘spiral’, the ‘gate’ and the ‘flipper’, while attempting to impress a judging panel and claim as many of the 400 points on offer as possible.
As well as scoring for their drifting skills, drivers are also rewarded for how good their cars look, how they sound and how much tyre smoke they kick up. Each run culminates in ‘the box’, where drivers need to ‘doughnut’ and drift around a tiny square enclosure with obstacles in. Points are deducted if drivers spin, drift the wrong way, or hit an obstacle. Three penalties and they’re out.
There might not be any of the heart-in-mouth battles seen in the Drift Masters European Championship, but the complexity of drifting – at speed – is still something to behold.

Any other differences?
Because of those tight, coned-off courses and trick tasks that need completing, Red Bull Car Park Drift drivers require smaller and more agile cars than those used in the Drift Masters European Championship. They still need front-engine, rear-wheel machines, but the cars favoured by drivers in this series include the BMW 3-Series E36, the Toyota AE86, one of the cars that started the drifting phenomenon in Japan, and the Nissan 370Z coupé.

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