Four Ugandan drivers who are in Kenya for the ongoing FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) event – the Safari Rally – failed to meet the required standards.
They were consequently denied the chance to race against seven-time world champion Sebastian Ogier in the four-day 796.86km, of which 262.93kms is competitive as the event reaches its 68th edition.
The quartet are Duncan Mubiru (Subaru GVB) Hassan Alwi Junior (Subaru Impreza), Ronald Ssebuguzi (Mitsubishi Evo. X) and Kepher Walubi (Mitsubishi Evo. X).
The event that attracted 70 crews has four classes – WRC, WRC2, WRC3 and Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC). They will not score WRC points after being relegated to the KNRC.
However, the points they will garner will count towards the Uganda National Rally Championship (NRC) but for now, they are dealing with the disappointment of not taking part in the ultimate race.
During scrutineering in Naivasha, it was found out that Mubiru’s racing helmets had a crack on one of them.
The safety belts on Ssebuguzi’s machine were found outdated. Alwi Junior has a roll cage that was tampered with. Walubi drives a car whose fuel tank was fitted in the wrong place and safety pads that don’t meet WRC standards.
Reigning national champions Yasin Nasser/Ali Katumba (Subaru Impreza) met the standards and were consequently cleared to fly the Ugandan flag in the prestigious WRC category.
The sanctions reopen an eternal debate about the quality of the cars and equipment used by many of the Ugandan drivers.
Previously, drivers were asked to buy fire-proof clothing or homologated racing clothes to compete in the Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally.
Other basics for WRC events include; specific spare parts, two spare wheels, two fire extinguishing systems, safety harnesses and cutter, ‘bulletproof’ doors, seat cushions plus phones and health documents.
The event started yesterday with a super special at Kasarani. Today, drivers will do three sections – Chui (13.34km), Kedong (32.68km) and Oserian (18.87km).
These sections will be repeated twice but the drivers are worried about the longest Kedong section which has a lot of sand sections, dust plus rocks.