Rajiv comes of age

Size is nothing. Ruparelia (inset) flies his VW Polo en route to victory in the Kabalega Rally on Saturday. PHOTO | JOHN BATANUDDE

Rajiv Ruperalia’s dream of defeating top rally drivers in the country came true on Saturday in Hoima during the fifth round of the National Rally Championship (NRC).

Ruparelia his co-driver Enock Olinga won the highly competitive Kabalega Rally in a VW Proto in a time of one hour, 44 minutes and 56 seconds. 

 Ruparelia pulled home – for his first victory at this level – 45 seconds ahead of NRC standings leader Duncan Mubiru.

Since the return motorsport in March following the Covid-19 lockdown, Rajiv has improved a lot.  He has finished three events – including a podium at the United Motor Club (UMC) Kassanda rally.

This time, the ‘new kid on the block’ was unstoppable. He won six of the seven sections in the one-day event. Three-time national champion Ronald Ssebuguzi won the other section.

“It was a great event although I had a bit of mishap in the first stage. I had to play a bit with the car and get it out. (The) rest was okay,” said Ruparelia.

Second-place finish lifted Mubiru and his navigator Musa Nsubuga to 350 points, 70 ahead of Hassan Alwi Jr.

The “Kikankane” driver said he was happy with the points and he is looking forward for the final event.

Ssebuguzi and Anthony Mugambwa came third to register a first podium finish in over a year, while Omar Mayanja and Hussein Mukuye drove several kilometres on three wheelsm taking the consolation of just having finished the event.

Alwi Jr had a tough time in Hoima despite being the most successful in the Albertine Region after victories in 2017 and 2018. He came fifth but promised to bounce back.

For the fifth time, former national champion Jas Mangat and Joseph Kamya in Mitsubishi Evo X failed to finish the event.

Arthur Blick Jr was full of praise for his son Alestair Blick, who navigated for the first time, despite not finishing the event.

“We were running fourth before we started having a few issues with the car. It’s through adversity that you learn the skill of trade and return to a better person. Use every opportunity as a learning curve to your path to excellence. We definitely have a future champion in the future,” said Blick Jr.