Foreign crews called the shots in the Shell V-Power Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally which ended on Saturday.
At the end of the two-day event, all the top four crews were foreigners with Omar Mayanja/Leon Ssenyange the best Ugandan finishers in fifth place. Kenyan Rajbir Singh Rai, co-driven by Timothy Challen, won the event. Such was the misery for local rally fans that no Ugandan crew could even manage victory in any of the 10 Competitive Sections.
While Mayanja and Ssenyange’s efforts were enough to earn them top place in the National Rally Championship (NRC) category, their display proved Ugandans still have a huge gap to close on their foreign counterparts.
On average, Mayanja/Ssenyange trailed the section winners by nearly two-and-a half minutes throughout the event.
The foreigners underlined their intentions from Day One in the muddy conditions in Star City with Kenyan Jaspreet Catthe taking the early initiative. When the Kenyan dropped out while leading in CS5- Zion1-Semuto (37.65km), Ivory Coast’s Gary Chaynes took over with Zambian Mohammed Essa.
All the while, Ronald Ssebuguzi/ Cedric Buzabo was the only Ugandan crew trying to give the continental event a real go.
The Ugandan’s chase was, however, ended by a mechanical problem on Saturday.
Ivorian Chaynes maintained his lead only to surrender it to eventual winner Rai in the final section.
“I did not have to win overall. I only had to stay ahead of my ARC rivals, which I did and I am happy with my position,” Chaynes, who finished second to increase his ARC lead over rival Essa, told Daily Monitor.
“I came here for 25 points. I am happy for Rai since he is not in the running for the ARC title. He is a good driver,” Chaynes added. Chaynes now leads the ARC standings on 101 points with Essa second on 93. Essa remained defiant in defeat explaining that he had no brakes for the whole of Saturday. “I could not mount an all-out attack as I would have wanted. We are going to work on the car in time for the Kenya Safari,” Essa said.
Despite failing to score points in the Pearl Rally, Ssebuguzi emerged strong in the battle for the NRC title.
His nearest challenger Jonas Kansiime did not participate while Duncan ‘Kikankane’ Mubiru who was third in the NRC standings before the start scored only 28 points for his 15th-place overall finish on Saturday. “I would have wanted to wrap-up the title this weekend but am happy my rivals also did not perform any better,” noted Ssebuguzi, who now has 351 points. “With two rounds to go, I remain favourite.”
Wilbert Pole Pole was the only NRC challenger who gained ground on Ssebuguzi as he jumped from fourth to second on 231 points. He finished ninth overall. 36 cars started the event on Friday and 23 finished.
Vivo Energy managing director, Hans Poulsen, said during the awards ceremony on Saturday that his company will return as event sponsors.
ARC standings after rd 6
Gary Chaynes (Ivory Coast) -101pts
Mohamed Essa (Zambia) -93
Jaspreet Chatthe (Kenya) -58
* Two more events to go
NRC standings after rd 5
Ronald Ssebuguzi -351pts
Wilbert Pole Pole -231
Duncan Mubiru -213
Jonas Kansime -208
CS1- Chaynes- 11:25 secs
CS2- Essa- 12:48
CS3- Chaynes- 17:52
CS4- Rai- 14:34
CS5- Essa- 30:49
CS6- Rai/ Chaynes- 17:30
CS7- Chaynes- 17:22
CS8- Essa- 14:32
Courtesy of monitor.co.ug