King of Nations Round 1/King of Desert Round 2 – Yas Marina, UAE
As the 2017 Federal Tyres King of Nations series got underway, the legendary Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi was the perfect location for drivers from across the Middle East to prove they have what it takes to compete with the best from around the world.
As practice got underway the drivers starting laying down their best runs on the extremely challenging high-speed layout set by the judges as the smoke began billowing out of the incredible Formula One circuit.
Completing the car just days before, Luke Fink piloted the insane sounding V10-powered Kinetechnik BMW M3 to the top spot in qualifying with just a few drivers left to go. However, as the fans and drivers watched on, it would then see Japanese legend Daigo Saito lay down an incredible 96.89 points to steal the coveted top position.
With Saito and Fink occupying the top two spots, current King of Desert Champion Ahmad Daham once again made no mistakes in clinching the third spot with Tariq Al Shaihani and Ahmed Al Ameri occupying 4th and 5th.
One of the first casualties of the weekend would be Japanese visitor Toni ‘Half Breeds’ Arakaki. Despite a promising effort whilst pushing the boundaries of the stock SR20 against King of Desert driver Ali Al Balushi, it would be the Omani driver that would progress to the Top 16.
After his 3rd place overall finish in 2016, King of Nations driver Nasser Almutairi would win his Top 32 battle in his newly built Nissan 350Z, but his weekend would come to an early end in his Top 16 battle against Jordanian driver Rafat Haroun.
After some intense battles which saw some surprising early exits, second place qualifier Luke Fink faced Ahmed Tarek in the Top 16. After a close first battle between the drivers, their one-more-time ended early as mechanical failure put an end to the fight for a podium spot for the Australian driver.
After stunning the drivers and fans at King of Desert Round 1, Fahad AlJadei was unable to compete in his car, but it didn’t stop him pushing as hard as he could, forcing a one more time battle against current Champion Ahmad Daham.
Unfortunately in the OMT battle AlJadei’s weekend would come to a sudden end after an incident which caused his rear wheel to come off of the car, leaving him unable to continue his quest for his second consecutive podium.
Omani driver Tariq Al Shaihani would face Daigo Saito in the Top 4, but once again Saito proved why he’s undoubtedly one of the best drivers in the world as he secured his spot in the final. Meanwhile Ahmad Daham would face Ahmed Tarek in a Jordan vs Egypt battle, which saw the reigning King of Desert Champion make no mistakes as he secured his spot in the final.
Unfortunately for Ahmed Tarek a mechanical failure meant that the Egyptian driver was unable to compete in the small final, handing the third podium spot to Omani driver Tariq Al Shaihani, who had once again shown great form throughout the weekend.
The final was undoubtedly a battle that the local fans and drivers had been hoping to witness as the most successful driver in the Middle East faced the legendary Daigo Saito. As Saito pushed as hard as he could in the lead run, a mistake from Daham would earn a 7-3 advantage to the Japanese driver. With Daham taking the lead run, Saito would manage to earn a 5-5 draw to secure the coveted top spot of the podium!
Toni ‘Half Breeds’ Arakaki collected the trophy on Daigo Saito’s behalf, Ahmad Daham takes the second spot with Tariq Al Shaihani in third.
It was undoubtedly an impressive performance from the Middle Eastern drivers as they occupied two of the top three spots on the podium. Meanwhile, it also earns Daigo Saito the perfect start to this first full King of Nations campaign. Despite having used a borrowed car for the event, Kuwaiti driver Fahad AlJadei manages to maintain his top spot in the King of Desert rankings, but will Ahmad Daham manage to return to the top as the international drivers mix things up once again as the next rounds take place in less than a week in Muscat, Oman?