Champion not declared yet, Ssebuguzi conquered Africa

Ssebuguzi is now the best in Africa. PHOTO/JOHN BATANUDDE 

What you need to know:

Rugomoka, who missed the first two events of the season and only won his first ever rally event in Rukungiri, thought he had landed the championship but now has to wait.

Controversy continues to dominate headlines in both motorsport and motocross in Uganda and the year 2022 had its fair share of that.

The chaos started from the word go with the first event on the National Rally Championship, the Rukaari-Lake Mburo Mbarara Rally.

Several drivers ended up pulling out of the event following the confusion that ensued right before the season opener.

First the event was on, then called off by Federation of Motorsports Clubs of Uganda (FMU) and later reinstated.

All this was in a matter of hours and letters and press releases kept flying around until Friday, when the federation managed to get the required speed lift instrument from the Ministry of Works and Transport.

Host club, Mbarara Motor Club was accused by FMU of failure to effect recommendations agreed upon during a crisis meeting held on January 20th.

The drama was on between Thursday 20th and Friday 21st, leaving drivers in total confusion as to whether to proceed to Mbarara for the rally or stay in Kampala and focus on other things.

In the end, some top drivers chose to stay away from the chaos. Confirmation that the rally would go on came late.

But when the action started, there was no stopping two-time NRC winner Ponsiano Lwakataka, cruising his Subaru N12B to victory in Mbarara to start the season and set the pace.

NRC Champion still unknown

While the NRC season came to a dramatic conclusion with Byron Rugomoka winning the Kigezi-Boona Rally in Rukungiri early this month, the overall winner is to be declared.

Rugomoka, who missed the first two events of the season and only won his first ever rally event in Rukungiri, thought he had landed the championship but now has to wait.

The aftermath of the final event on the calendar was dominated by petitions from crews that were still in the title run.

Crews of Jonas Kansiime and Lwakataka teams have both inquired from the sporting commission regarding awarding of points in different legs of the season.

Lwakataka still in it

After winning the first two events on the calendar, Lwakataka was the man to beat and made it known that a third championship was what he was eyeing.

The Mafu Mafu crew enhanced their position at the top of the log by collecting 112 points from the Pearl of Africa Rally but that marked the beginning of their troubles.

The two-time NRC winner dropped out in the first section of the Fort Portal Rally but returned to collect 70 points from Masaka Rally. 

That was the last event Lwakataka took part in and that saw him miss out on the opportunity to close out the title race.

The 51-year-old was sentenced to 16 months in jail by Mukono Court Grade One magistrate Patience Koburunga over malicious damage to property of one George William Kawooya, a resident of Goma Sub- County in Kiwanga, Mukono.

But with FMU yet to declare the winner, a third NRC title is still a possibility for Lwakataka.

With the inconsistency of drivers like Ronald Ssebuguzi and Duncan Mubiru, the season belonged to people like Rugomoka, Kansiime and Umar Dauda.

Younger drivers Mark Lubega and Mike Mukula also enhanced their reputations and will certainly be forces to reckon with in the near future. 

The latter missed out on winning the Clubman Rally Championship by just two points following a roll that saw him out of the final event. 

He needed three points from Rukungiri to seal the deal but surrendered the title to Muhammed Bwete.

Ssebuguzi only African champion

The chaos did not spare the motocross family. The bickering from 2021 stretched into 2022 with riders divided. 

And when Team Uganda was assembled for the Mountain Dew FIM Motocross of African Nations 2022, a chunk of riders affiliated to MAU, a breakaway faction from FMU, were missing on the track.

Fortune Ssentamu, the Omar brothers, Waleed and Wazir were all absent from Team Uganda and that did not help matters. Former Cranes captain Maxime Van Pee was out as well due to work commitments and that left Uganda’s chances slim.

With both South Africa and Zambia in town for the action, top places were hard to come by for Ugandan riders in the various categories.

South Africa and Zambia dominated all but one category at the Garuga Raceway track to finish first and second respectively.

Uganda settled for third with Gift Ssebuguzi as the only category winner to register the nation’s only gold.

Ssebuguzi did the magic in the first and final heats of the MX85cc to become the only African champion from Team Uganda.

It was the third heat on day two of the event that made the difference for the young Ugandan rider.

Having taken the first heat of the competition on Day One, Ssebuguzi lost out to South Africa’s Ronald Graven in heat two.

The two riders had to be separated by the final heat and this left fans on their toes until the checkered flag was raised to confirm Ssebuguzi as the winner.

Awards, finally

FMU closed the year with an awards’ dinner held at Kabira Country Club on December 15th. The night was used to clear the backlog from as far back as 2019.

Winners from the past had not been awarded due to the Covid-19 situation.

Late JB Senkubuge, who worked for Daily Monitor before his passing, was one of those recognised for his contribution to motorsport and motocross in the country.
 

Final standings

NRC (Pending)

2WD

Oscar Ntambi -90

Ibrahim Lubega -82

Dr. Godfrey Nsereko -51

CRC

Muhammed Bwete -82

Mike Mukula Jr -80

Julius Semambo -76

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