Friday July 14 2017

2017 Pearl Rally route praised

Plotting: Alwi Hassan shares a word with Muna

Plotting: Alwi Hassan shares a word with Muna Singh (middle) . On the right is FIA technical delegate Chris Birkin  

By Fred Musisi Kiyingi


The dust has firmly settled after the 19th edition of Shell V-Power Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally won by Kenyan driver Manvir Baryan with Drew Sturrock in Skoda Fabia 1600 R5.

On the local front, the battle for National Rally Championship (NRC) title is reaching a climax with 200 points to fight for in the remaining two events in Hoima and Jinja respectively.

Christakis Fitidis/Eric Nzamwita ( Evo X) leads the championship with 315 pts after dethroning Ronald Ssebuguzi/Leon Ssenyange ( Evo X) from the summit.
The latter, on 250 points, didn’t finish the Pearl Rally which was the fifth event of the seven-race NRC calendar.

Kuku Ranjit/Musa Nsubuga (Evo X) and Duncan Mubiru/ George Ssemakula in (Subaru N14) all have one eye on the title with 230 points apiece.

The four are separated by 85 points. While local drivers dropped out one by one, you cannot attribute that to the route according to Zambia’s Muna Singh.
The two-time African champion (2004-05) is now a member of World Rally Commission in FIA representing Africa.

“The route was good. The organisers have taken the right direction in that area. In the past the route was car breaker,” the Zambian told the Daily Monitor. The FIA technical delegate Chris Birkin concurred as did the 2003 national champion Moses Lumala.

“This time round the route was 80- 90% closed. Next year, the route should be totally closed. Uganda should have ability to use 100% closed route as FIA demands,” South African Birkin said.

With the closed route the way forward, Singh urged the focus should now turn on organising a good event.
“We all know how passionate the fans are here, but the organisers need to strike a balance between them and the drivers,” Singh said. “In future, they ( organisers) should think about allocating more time on transport section, because on the amount of fans on the road. You cannot run the event without fans and vice- versa.”

At an African Countries in Motorsports (CACMS) meeting next month in Nigeria, Singh promised to raise an issue of Africa Rally Championship (ARC) contenders who struggle to traverse the continent.
“Drivers have complained that this format (South to North) is expensive. We shall see what the best and come out with a solution,” he revealed.

Birkin, on his part, was mighty impressed with Ugandan drivers’ preparation. “I must commend the drivers and the technical people (here) for seeing that required standards are met,” he observed.

During the Kenya Safari Rally in April this year, the South African was not happy with the way Ugandan drivers prepared their cars. To this, Lumala reminded of how expensive the sport is and noted that local drivers are doing their best.

“Rally is about good preparation and a better car. If you have relatively a good car and you prepare well, you can compete with the best,” the legend said.
“You look at the Skoda and the way it was being serviced, it can only be a disaster if it does not finish the event.”