Dipu resolute as virus wrecks African flag-off

Friday February 05 2021
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Contender. Three-time NRC winner Ronald Ssebuguzi (right) must be itching to get back into the cockpit of his Mitsubishi Evo X (left). Inset is FMU Dipu holds the aces on rallying resumption. PHOTOS/JOHN BATANUDDE

By Ismail Dhakaba Kigongo

This week’s cancelation of the Africa Rally Championship (ARC) opener – the Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally – sent a shiver down the continent’s motorsport spine.
 The event was slated for March 19-21 but the Coronavirus pandemic forced organizers to call it off. Consequently, the May 7-9 Kenya Equator Rally will now be the first race.

 Africa is desperate to get racing again after the entire 2020 ARC calendar was wiped out after one event held in Ivory Coast.
 The Federation of Motorsport Clubs of Uganda (FMU) is watching events keenly not only for local National Rally Championship (NRC) but also the Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally.

Working timeframe
 “For us, the good thing is that our race is in August,” FMU president Dipu Ruparelia notes. “We are hoping that by then, sports has been opened.” 
 According to the draft ARC calendar, the Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally is penciled in for August 20-22.
 In the meantime, Ruparelia, elected FMU president in February, 2020 just before Covid-19 struck and the lockdown started, is not resting. 
 “Preparations are ongoing with the marketing committee in terms of impact assessment which is happening for the first time. The Arua one is done and now we are doing the second one.

“After that then we can start approaching sponsors. People work with numbers,” Ruparelia explains.
Tomorrow, FMU will have their Annual General Meeting (AGM) at Kabira Country Club.
Thereafter, FMU will present their plan in regard to resumption of rallying to the National Council of Sports (NCS).
“We are going to put the guidelines to have events with no fans. We are also looking at having a one day event that runs from 7am to 3pm.

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On the Pearl rally, Ruparelia goes deeper. “If we are to do the Pearl this year, we are already looking at plantations in Kisoga (Mukono) and Nakasongola to make it safe as possible.
“You know, we have had yellow cards from the FiA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) so it must be in a closed route,” he states.



May 7-9: Kenya
June 18-20: Tanzania
July 16-18: Kenya (also WRC event) 
August 20-22: Uganda
September 24-26: Zambia
October 29-31: South Africa