Mangat relegated to second in ARC season opener

Jas Mangat negotiates a muddy section. PHOTOS/JOHN BATANUDDE 

What you need to know:

During the climax of last year’s ARC, Mangat won the final event of the season in Tanzania but managed a total of 141 points, three less than Patel.

Jas Mangat must again do it the hard way in order to win a maiden Africa Rally Championship (ARC) title – more than a decade after he made his first attempt.

Months after coming up short in the final race of the season to hand Karan Patel a maiden continental crown, Mangat again ceded ground on day one.

The Ugandan rally ace, a three-time national champion, finished second in the season opening Shell V-Power Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally that ended on Sunday.

Kenyan driver Karan Patel flying in his Skoda Fabia R5. 

His arch-nemesis Patel brought home his Skoda Fabia R5 in a time of one hour, 45 minutes and 11.6 seconds covering the districts of Buikwe and Jinja.

“We had a good fight with my friend Jas. I want to thank him for the good fight. It’s just the beginning,” a jovial Patel said before the prize-giving ceremony.

“But, we have to look out for Hamza (Anwar) who has started checking us. Let's pray that with a few races he will be there with us,” he added.

During the climax of last year’s ARC, Mangat won the final event of the season in Tanzania but managed a total of 141 points, three less than Patel.

Karan Patel can smile all year. 

This time, the Kenyan finished the three-day 525.91km rally one minute and 42 seconds ahead of Mangat’s Hyundai i20 R5.

The distance was split into 209.45km of competitive sections and 316.46km in transport.

Mangat, co-driven by Laurent Magat, fired the first shot, winning the 8.6km Tadooba stage by 8.2 seconds on Saturday.

Patel, navigated by Toussef Khan, responded quickly by taking the 18.96km Katushya stage with a two-second margin.

He then landed the decisive punch, beating Mangat, a two-time winner of Uganda’s premier rally event (2013 and 2022), by two minutes in the 25.4km Macarena section, the longest of the event.

The story is deeper as the clerk of course also had to compensate Mangat’s after he was slowed down by Kuku Ranjit on the road.

Armed with a chance to improve on his 10th place finish in 2022 and skipping last year’s showdown, Patel took his chance and never looked back.

Mangat has work to do. 

“We are happy to have won this event. I want to thank my team, my daddy, who is our main sponsor, but also I want to dedicate the win to my mother and the rest,” said Patel. He is a son of legendary Kenyan navigator Kiran Patel.

In earnest, the contest involved only one other car – Hamza Anwar’s Ford Fiesta. The reigning African junior champion came third in a time of one hour, 51 minutes and 39 seconds.

“On day two, we made a mistake. We overshot but managed to collect ourselves, stepped up and took the lead which we kept until the end,” Patel explained.

“I enjoy driving such events which are tactical. They always bring the best out of the drivers.”

While this was an ARC event, it was also the third of the 2024 National Rally Championship (NRC).

Shell V-Power POAUR

Results – ARC drivers

Karan Patel (Kenya) 01:45:11.7

Jas Mangat (Uganda) 01:46:54.4

Hamza Anwar (Kenya) 01:51:39.0

Michael Mukula Jr (Uganda) 02:06:24.5

Kuku Ranjit Singh (Uganda) 02:13:44.8

Dr. Mustapha Mukasa (Uganda) 02:17:07.5