Dubai drift: Sideways is the new forward for Lexus

The Japanese carmaker is heading into a pear-shaped future with drift king Ahmad Daham

Lexus isn’t traditionally a brand you’d associate with the more extreme variants of motorsport, what with its reputation for lurking at the luxury end of the motor trade. It seems that’s now a thing of the past, though, as the Japanese manufacturer is dipping its usually delicately clad foot into the frantic and smoke-filled world of drifting.

Look through the photo gallery above to see more of Lexus on the tracks in Dubai.

This sport doesn’t require a massive introduction. For many, it means you just drive fast around a corner, lose traction, then laugh insanely at the amusement value of it all. Even Mr Bean could have a bash at it, or so the thinking goes.

That kind of behaviour is just for we amateurs, though – there are men and women who do drifting properly. Ahmad Daham, who has been announced as brand ambassador for the Lexus F range, is one such person. He is five-time Middle East Drift Champion and a Guinness World Record-holder to boot.

To mark his appointment, the Jordanian gave a demonstration of the noble art of sliding sideways at Dubai Autodrome, unveiling at the same time his new Lexus RC F Pro Drift car, a vehicle that has been designed with his specific requirements in mind. And it’s what he’ll use in global events and competitions over the coming year. The custom-built vehicle is lightweight and can generate a scarcely credible 844hp from its supercharged, home-grown Lexus power plant.

The demonstration, where the driver took a series of suitably ashen-faced individuals out for a spin (at least they were looking rather pale by the end of it), took a while. You don’t produce that much smoke and noise without doing some serious damage to your tyres. A set lasted around four laps of the short racetrack, necessitating regular replacements.

Drifting as a pastime dates back to Japan in the 1970s, where participants would rub tyres raw engaging in controlled power slides around corners on downward slopes. Daham got interested in the sport in 2011, when he was 24 years old. Now, he can boast some serious pedigree – alongside 60 podium finishes over the years, he holds the world record for the longest twin drift, a stunt which sees two cars travelling in sync while going sideways. He gained this accolade on UAE soil at Global Village in Dubai, with the help of fellow lateral driver James Deane.

Lexus F denotes the range of high-performance cars produced by the carmaker. The F apparently stands for Flagship, or Fuji, which is the speedway in Oyama, Japan, that is mostly used by the manufacturer to test its speediest vehicles. The brand is distributed in the UAE by Al-Futtaim Lexus.

With the new collaboration, Daham is looking forward to the season ahead. “This car is so much fun to drive, and I cannot wait to push it to its limit,” he said.

Daham will be officially debuting the RC F at Britain’s Goodwood Festival of Speed 2019, which is in July. One suspects shares in tyre supplier Toyo will look considerably healthier with all the extra rubber the team will need for that little jaunt.