BY FRANK SERUGO, NAIVASHA.
Ugandan crews participating in the five-day WRC Safari rally that gets underway today(Wednesday),consent that,are out to learn from professional WRC drivers.
Registered drivers in Nationals class begin their rally today, with shakedown stage which rolls off at 13:01hrs within the conservancy of a breathtaking backdrop with spectacular viewing areas of Loldia.
Earlier before crews crossing the boarder to Kenya, all shared same word in common, “We are out to learn from the experienced Wrc drivers, have fan, and get exposure.”
Could this mean,Uganda isnot represented at the sixth round of the world rally championship?, As none of our drivers said a word that, they out to compete against the world’s top best.
This was the most realistic answer, the reporter got ahead of their Safari rally participation.
“Realistically it would be dreaming, if any of our crews said,they are going to compete with the likes of Sebastein Ogier, Ott Tank, Thierry Neuville, Elfyn Evans or Kalle Rovanpera, who have the budgets, the cars and experience,” Duncan ‘Kikankane’ Mubiru one of Uganda’s most intertaining driver, said.
Passing on the same question to the other four crews including Ronald Ssebuguzi, Yassin Nasser, Kepher Walubi and Hassan Alwi,they shared same sentiments as Mubiru.
Though their only left competition line is with the Nationals(Kenyans), who have similar levelled machines with them.
It’s not because, they have gotten a rally fever but its a comparison of their past experiences and results at the Safari, with most them having driven in it for more than three outings, save for Alwi who is making his second appearance.
However,the Safari has never been forgiving, neither spared the local boys since it inauguralation as Wrc round in 1973,when it was organised 21st edition won by late Shekhar Mehta co-driven by Lofty Drews in Datsun240Z with 18 cars finishing out of 41 starters.
Ugandans are banking on their past respective experiences to pick final results at the end of event on Sunday.
Meanwhile, it was like a bombshell when news infletted through that, Kikankane wasn’t going to have his sticky-sizemate co-driver Musa Nsubuga, after being locked down in Mbarara, Western part of the country due to president Yoweri Museveni’s on Friday 18th put a second National lockdown due the covid19 pandemic cases raising in the last one-two months.
In a bid to beat up the activity timetable for wrc safari rally, Mubiru was left with no option, but to switch his team manager, Omar Mayanja who is also a senior national rally driver to the co-driver bucket seat.
“The good thing we did recce and notes together with our manager(Omar) during Equator rally, and he has done all the paper work for the wrc safari, so he was the suitable replacement for me,” said Nsubuga on phone,who couldn’t make on time to travel with team.
Nsubuga further stressed that,three-days of timed recce were alloted for reconnaissance, thus it needed the crew to be in Kenya atleast a day before.
He however says, it a blessing in disguise to having had their manager along with them at Equator rally that was a precasor to the wrc event.
NSUBUGA’S history at Safari with Mubiru:
They made their debut 2015 in Subaru Impreza N16 where they had a fast roll that pulled them from forth position,to sixth overall finish.
2016 they had a smooth event managed 6th overall position, then 2017 they rolled in the last stage of the rally but managed to finish eighth overall.
In 2018, outing in their current Subaru GBV,they had a double bitting of the Kedong section as they rolled mid-way the stage, and also had right front tyres fly off the wheel 400 meters to the flying finish of the same stage.
Learning from their previous mistakes, at 2019 outing in Mitsubishi Evox,they managed a 13th overall finish.
During the 2021 Equator rally, they weren’t spared like other crews,as they were mechanically forced out after breaking their right rear shock absorber.
Nsubuga insists, the team’s strategy is to finish in the top 25th overalls,as they not scoring points from the event but out to gain experience.
Question now is, will the manager(Mayanja) now in co-driver seat, who earlier raised the bar for the crew to pick good results at the WRC Safari, deliver the team’s desired target as dislosed?
Your guess is as good as mine.
The challenging Safari rally know for the arduous conditions such, as constantly changing weather, and rough roads, has turned away from the previous over 1000km timed stages, to short special stage format since 1996.
The longest competitive stage in this year’s edition is Kedong 32.68kms,and shortest being the 4.84kms at Kasarani super special stage.
The 320.19km competitive rally evenly distributed in 18 stages,will end on Sunday with a 10.4km Wolf power stage at Hell’s gate.