A look at the entries log so far points to an exciting Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally in which high competition for honours will pit local drivers against foreigners with the latest works machines (factory-prepared rally cars) on the track, writes Moses Mugalu.
The battle to win this year’s Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally could zero down to a show of monster machines, with Mitsubishis and Subarus taking centre stage. The three-day rally, which doubles as fourth round of the national and Africa championship calendar event, flags off August 15 with closed route sections in Matugga. Entries close August 2.
According to the entry list so far, twelve contenders who include Kenyans, a Zambian, a Rwandan and Ugandans, are set to drive in their top of the range monster rides. Reigning Africa champion Mohammed Essa of Zambia will lead the Mitsubishi front with his Evolution Lancer X, which conquered the continental title for him last year.
Kenyans Rajbir Rai and Alex Horsey, homeboy Jas Mangat (winner of last year’s edition of the rally) and Ivory Coast’s Gary Chaynes are the other notable Evo X drivers. Another Kenyan contender Peter Horsey’s pick-up, nicknamed ‘Moto moto (Kiswahili for fire fire), is fitted with an Evo IX engine. Ronald Ssebuguzi, current leader of the NRC title race, will drive an Evo IX.
Rwandan Carlo Davite leads the big-name Subaru drivers with his N12. But Kenyan Manzir Baryan, who will debut the Subaru N20 on the Ugandan routes, is poised to steal the limelight. Officials said Baryan is the first owner of the only N20 on the African continent now.
Former Ugandan champion Susan ‘Super Lady’ Muwonge will also compete in her newly-acquired N12B, formerly driven by Essa. It will be a battle of machines well matched on the continental rally scene, which has forced local drivers to bust their bank accounts and acquire these factory-prepared rally cars, costing a minimum of Shs 200 million excluding maintenance and spares.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, purchase of works cars was preserved contest between tycoons Karim Hirji and Emma Katto. However, the situation has since changed with Ugandan top drivers splashing on acquiring rally cars to match competition from foreigners specifically during Pearl Rally.
Reynolds Kibira explains that Subarus are preferred by majority of Ugandan drivers because their spares are readily available on local market and affordable. Mitsubishi parts are rare and tend to be more expensive. And technically, Subarus have proven better machines on long stretches that dominate local rally route designs as compared to Mitsubishis, which have higher pick starts and very good at negotiating tight corners.
On engine strength, Kibira observes that Mitsubishi Evos have proven to be more resilient compared to Subarus that quite often failed on the local rally scene. That said, in a sport as unpredictable as rallying, it’s not a guarantee that the aforesaid machine aantages induce victory.
Misfortunes such as accidents, engine failure and punctures can strike any time and cost the driver with the best machine victory so luck must be on one’s side. Indeed, Pearl Rally has over the years lived up to such surprises and shocks.
Source : The Observer