Fitidis holds the aces

To win a race this season, Fitidis heads to the finale hoping that his consistency counts, something he has shown here and in the Africa Rally Championship

Fitidis, who is yet to win a race this season but has made three podiums out of five races, will hope his consistency counts in order to clinch the NRC title. PHOTO BY JB SSENKUBUGE  

BY ISMAIL DHAKABA KIGONGO

IN SUMMARY

  • Motosport. Only 75 points separate Christakis Fitidis from third-placed Ronald Ssebuguzi as the National Rally Championships calender come to a close this weekend in Masaka, Kalungu and Mpigi districts. Duncan Mubiru in second is also in the running for the 2017 title.

KAMPALA.

Christakis Fitidis holds the aces. Duncan ‘Kikankane’ Mubiru is a daredevil.
However, only Ronald Ssebuguzi knows what it takes to win a National Rally Championship (NRC).
With a 70 point lead over the second-placed Mubiru, it’s Fitidis’ title to lose as he needs to finish in the top five in the Oryx-Heartbeat Rally, organized by Motorsport Africa Club (Mosac) set for Masaka, Kalungu and Mpigi districts.
Fitidis has accumulated 375 points, Mubiru is on 305 while Ssebuguzi lies third on the NRC standings heading into the final round of seven.
The latter two must win the two-day event starting on Saturday outright to stand any chance of stealing the crown from Fitidis.
Yet to win a race this season, Fitidis heads to the finale hoping that his consistency counts, something he has shown here and in the Africa Rally Championship (ARC).
“There is certainly no pressure. It’s just a task of keeping the car intact and finishing the event,” Fitidis, 65, said. “We are in this position because we deserve to be here.”
He has competed in five of the six rounds here, finishing on podium in three events (Kayunga, Pearl and Hoima Rally) and fourth in Mbarara and Fort Portal Rally.
To the contrary, Mubiru and Ssebuguzi have flip-flopped throughout the year. The former has also had to switch cars from a Mitsubishi Evo X to a Subaru N14.
Mubiru’s season could be summed up in changing co-drivers from George Ssemakula to Cedric Buzabo ahead of the 145.2km event, 120.7km of which is competitive
The daring Mubiru, perhaps the fastest among the 45 drivers registered for this event, bar three-time national champion Jas Mangat, won the Kabale Rally before failing to finish twice in Kayunga and Fort Portal Rally.
He finished third in Mbarara and fourth among nationals during Pearl Rally.
“We will give it our best like I have always done. Let’s all hope for the best but with rally, you cannot be sure about the behavior of the car,” Mubiru noted.
For Ssebuguzi, victory in Kayunga, two runners-up finishes, a fourth place in Hoima to go with two failures to finish in Fort Portal and the ARC round held here have kept him in the hunt for a fourth title.
Outgoing national champion Mangat will give the perfect slideshow having chosen to race in Masaka. He only raced in the season opener.

NATIONAL RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP TITLES

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Sam Ssali (4) – 1992, 1991, 1990, 1989
Charlie Lubega (4) – 2004, 2002, 2001, 2000
Ronald Ssebuguzi (3) – 2014, 2009, 2006
Jas Mangat (3) – 2016, 2013, 2012
Ponsiano Lwakataka (2) – 2008 & 2007
Moses Lumala (2) – 2003, 1999

NATIONAL RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
STANDINGS AFTER 6 ROUNDS
Christakis Fitidis 375 pts
Duncan Mubiru 305
Ronald Ssebuguzi 300

NRC RECENT WINNERS
2016 – Jas Mangat
2015 – Arthur Blick Jr.
2014 – Ronald Ssebuguzi
2013 – Jas Mangat
2012 – Jas Mangat
2011 – Susan Muwonge
2010 – Nasser Mutebi
2009 – Ronald Ssebuguzi
2008 – Ponsiano Lwakataka
2007 – Ponsiano Lwkataka
2006 – Ronald Ssebuguzi

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