Motor Sport

Rally body, drivers’ truce lifts gloom over disappointing year

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Jas Mangat clinched the National Rally Championships with a race.

Jas Mangat clinched the National Rally Championships with a race. His shot at the ARC however was derailed when he failed to complete the Rwanda and Madagascar rallies. PHOTO BY ISMAIL KEZAALA. 

By Elvis Senono

Posted  Tuesday, December 24  2013 at  02:00

In Summary

Motorsport. Four drivers were handed six-year bans for allegedly inciting their colleagues to boycott competitions. The ban was, however, rescinded.

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Kampala

The domestic motorsport season often starts with a lot of fanaticism shown by drivers and fans alike. And this year was no different except that that passion would be taken away by a moment of over zealousness by the people in charge of the sport.

Ponsiano Lwakataka started the season with victory in the opening rally in Mbarara after early leader Jas Mangat dropped out in what would be a sign of things to come. That would be his only victory of the year as Ronald Ssebuguzi navigated by Cedric Buzabo won the season’s second event the Freedom City rally in March.

From then on, it was all Jas Mangat as he won back-to-back rallies in Masaka where a makeshift pavilion collapsed, leaving 25 spectators injured, as well as the Martyr’s Day rally in June. Then came the Federation of Motorsport Clubs of Uganda (FMU)’s moment of madness.

The sport’s governing body banned four drivers Duncan Mubiru (who was fourth in the drivers’ standings then), 2010 champion Nasser Mutebi , Geoffrey Nsamba and John Burrows Lumu for a mind-boggling six years accusing them of inciting their colleagues to boycott competitions, which in turn damaged the federation’s image.

Amidst that confusion, Mangat continued with his dominance on the local scene adding the Pearl of Africa and Independence rallies to the earlier two triumphs to wrap up his second consecutive National Rally Championship (NRC) with a race to spare.

He was not that lucky though on the African scene. Having skipped the opening two rallies in Ivory Coast and South Africa, Mangat making a fourth attempt at the African crown, started his quest for the title with a third placed finish at the Zambia International Rally which was won by 2012 champion Mohamed Essa.

He then won the Tanzania rally, the fourth event on the African Rally Championship (ARC) calendar beating home favourite Gerard Miller and Jassy Singh to go top of the ARC standings with 58 points, eight ahead of Essa with Singh down in third on 48.

Despite finishing 26th Mangat was the second ARC competitor to finish in the Kenya Safari Rally with Essa claiming full ARC points after finishing seventh. His win at the Pearl of Africa Rally stretched his lead to 17 points with talk of him being the first Ugandan driver since Charles Muhangi to win the ARC looking realistic. That wasn’t to be as he failed to complete the last two rallies first in Rwanda and then Madagascar to effectively hand over the title to Singh.

Back at home, with Mangat having wrapped up the NRC title, John Consta in his second season behind the cockpit announced his arrival on the rally scene beating the experienced Ronald Ssebuguzi into second position in the final round of the NRC which was returning to eastern Uganda after a 14 year hiatus.

With the season drawing to a close, FMU and the banned drivers finally reached an out-of-court settlement that had sport’s governing body lift the six-year-ban on the drivers. Amidst all the excitement of lifting the ban, the administrative problems that the drivers raised prior to the ban are yet to be solved implying that there could resurface in the 2014 season.

NRC WINNERS

Mbarara rally results
Ponsiano Lwakataka
Freedom city Rally
Ronald Ssebuguzi
Masaka Rally
Jas Mangat
Martyrs Day Rally
Jas Mangat
Pearl of Africa rally
Jas Mangat
Independence Rally
Jas Mangat
Mt Elgon Rally
John Consta

essono@ug.nationmedia.com