Pearl Rally Showtime

Blue-Eyed Boys. The Shell V-Power sponsored crews of Arthur Blick Jr (C) and Ronald Ssebuguzi (R) received their packages for the 24th edition of the Shell V-Power Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally yesterday at Shell Lugogo. PHOTO | JOHN BATANUDDE

What you need to know:

  • Reigning NRC champion Duncan Mubiru struggled with his newly acquired Ford Fiesta Proto and finished fifth in Kaliro after rolling on Day One and re-entering the event on the super rally rules.

For the first time in the history of the Shell V-Power Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally, there will be a qualifying stage. The 3.7km stage will provide the start order for the Africa Rally Championship entry crews when proper action starts tomorrow in Lugazi.

This will have emphasis mainly on African Rally Championship (ARC) drivers but local drivers are also expected to have a run today. To determine who starts in what position tomorrow, organisers will go with drivers with the best times from today’s run to be held at Mzuri Africa Hotel, Namataba.

 First, the ARC drivers will do a practice drive, then a shake-down to check the capacity of their cars before fighting for positions in the qualifying. The shake down provides an opportunity to the various crews to test their machines on a terrain similar to that of the event and all their three runs will be timed.  

Mangat, Nasser back

Former Pearl winner Jas Mangat is the only Ugandan driver registered for the ARC and will be out to get a good starting position and collect points from the event. There is also a return to action of Yasin Nasser and Ali Katumba. The 2019 NRC winner has been missing in action in the first two rounds of the local calendar and returns for the big one. They were the best placed local crew in the previous Pearl Rally having finished second overall in 2019 and in their Subaru GBV, they have a car that can challenge for top honours. They start the event on a high after landing a sponsorship deal with Uganda Airlines.

Eyes on Gomes, Patel

Zambia’s Leroy Gabriel Gomes and Kenya’s Karan Patel are expected to attract the most attention the next two days. The two are in serious contention for the ARC title with Gomes leading on 50 points whereas Patel is on 30 after two rounds.

From the third round, Gomes can either break away or give Patel a chance to close the gap. The Kenyan managed to beat his rival in the second round on home soil and will be looking to make it two in two, some kilometres away from home in Uganda. 

The two present new generation machines. They will both be cruising in Ford Fiesta R5 and will be looking to make Ugandans forget about Manvir Baryan’s Skoda Fabia R5 that  won the last three Pearl Rally events.

Home comfort 

Reigning NRC champion Duncan Mubiru struggled with his newly acquired Ford Fiesta Proto and finished fifth in Kaliro after rolling on Day One and re-entering the event on the super rally rules.

In Kaliro, he had only had the car for only a few hours. The car arrived on Friday and was in competition on Saturday, giving the driver not time to study it. This time round, the Kikankane crew has had time with the machine and will be out to add to their 40 points as they attempt to defend the NRC title.

Current NRC leader Ponsiano Lwakataka will only be interested in keeping his position at the top of the log. 

Homeboys Hassan Alwi plus Arthur Blick Jr and Ronald Ssebuguzi, sponsored by Shell, will be hungry to score priceless points at the coveted event.

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