Jamaica gets the drift from Red Bull
Montego Bay-based driver Cleve "Cutta Hype" Ottey drifting his car through a course in the Second City recently.Photo: Rory Daley

RED Bull, for the first time, will host its annual Red Bull Car Park Drift (RBCPD) competition in Jamaica. The event is set to take place at the Catherine Hall Sports Complex in Montego Bay, St James, on October 1, 2022.

Gates open at 5:00 pm, while the competition is set to begin at 7:00 pm.

A total of 20 local participants, who have already been selected, will compete in nine obstacle courses set by Abdo Feghali, National Motorsports champion from Lebanon, three-time Rally Champion and Guinness world record holder for the longest drift. Drifters, who must expertly make their way around the challenging course, will be tested on their skill and precision, rather than speed.

Drifting has existed for over half a century and is said to have originated in Japan. A group of racers set out to beat their A to B times by exceeding the grip limit of their tires when taking sharp corners. Though their racing times did not see much improvement, it led to the evolution of an entirely different racing discipline, redefining driver control.

Drifting sees cars burning rubber off their tyres during the event.

It was first featured as an official part of the motorsports scene in Japan in 1970 at the All Japan Touring Car Championship. It took two decades for the international motorsports scene to take on drifting. Countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and China made drifting a fully fledged sport. Fast-forward to 2022 and the Western Hemisphere will now be welcomed into the fore with the Red Bull Car Park Drift Competition.

Each drifter can be awarded up to 300 points total by a panel of three judges, which includes Jamaican race car driver Doug Gore, former sprinter and racing enthusiast Asafa Powell as well as RBCPD representative Yusif Bassil. Points will be divided according to a set of judging criteria which includes drifting skills throughout the various obstacles (box runs, pendulums, spirals, and many more), smoke, car sound, and car looks and design. Points will be lost if contestants spin the car, hit obstacles, or drift in the wrong direction, while three penalties will lead to a disqualification.

The 20 contestants, the top four from five previously held national qualifiers, will compete in this national final. The winner of the national final will advance to the world final in Saudi Arabia, where they will represent Jamaica for the first time in the competition's history.

The RBCPD is one of the largest drifting competitions. Now in its 14th year, the event was first conceptualised in 2005 following a Red Bull manager's discovery of drifting fever in a car park in Hong Kong, China. Drift legend Abdo Feghali, who has taken an integral role in the organisation of the overall Car Park Drift Competition since its 2008 debut, will be in attendance at the competition's 14th season. Come November 25, contestants will compete for the Global Drift King title in Saudi Arabia.

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