Ugandan rally ace Yasin Nasser retained his faint hopes of becoming African champion this year with a third place finish at the three-day Sarago Zambia International Rally that ended on Sunday.
Nasser, co-driven by Ali Katumba in a Subaru Impreza (GVB), beat many odds on the final day to clock a time of two hours, 27 minutes and 23 seconds on his first trip to southern Africa.
That was 12 minutes and 20 seconds off the pace set by race winner – Kenya’s Carl Tundo – who is also the Africa Rally Championship (ARC) standings leader with two races left in the season.
It could have been worse for Nasser in the 408.62km event, 189.18 km of which was competitive. He broke a gear nob and suffered an intercom system failure.
In a dramatic finish, Tundo flew his VW Polo Polo R5 to the finish on a bare rear him.
Home driver, Leroy Gomes, who was lying within 11 seconds of Tundo’s lead, was forced out of the rally in the last stage after his Ford Fiesta hit a tree, consequently breaking a driveshaft.
South Africa’s Guy Botteril, driving a Toyota Etios R4, came second in a time of two hours, 19 minutes and 37 seconds. The winner did two hours, 15 minutes and three seconds.
Two rounds left
Tundo, a five-time Kenya Safari Rally champion, has now won three successive rounds of the current series starting with Kenya’s Equator Rally then followed by Tanzania and now the Zambian event.
He now has 90 points. That tally is 17 more than what Botteril has managed thus far. Nasser is on 49 in third with two rounds left.
Drivers will now look forward to the Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally slated for next month and South Africa in November.
Each race victory is worth 20 points, second place comes with 17 and third 15. There is an extra five bonus points for the winner of every leg of the rally.
For Nasser to overhaul Tundo, he will have to win the two remaining rounds while also accumulating bonus points and then hope that the ARC leader falters badly.