African Rally Championship: Engine war in Kampala
Defending champion Muna Singh of Zambia.

African Rally Championship: Engine war in Kampala

War of engines April 21-23. The crop of Ugandan top brass vows to take the foreigners.

By Ramathan Kasozi
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First published: April 15, 2006

After last month's Kenya Safari Rally, the quest for the African Rally Championship [ARC] resumes next week, 21st- 23rd April 2006. Kampala will be the battlefield for over 25 cars tussling it out for points in the prestigious Alpha Pearl of Africa Rally.

Over ten foreign senior drivers have registered for the event; the 3rd on the ARC calendar and it's the people of Wakiso and Luwero districts privileged to have a free meal of dust as the cars will be traversing their areas after a super special stage on day one in Lubiri.

Defending champion Muna Singh from Zambia in his reliable Subaru Impreza, Kenya's Azar Anwar in Mitsubishi Evo 4, Peter Cavenagh from Tanzania, the Belgian duo of Emontspool and Earnest in Subaru and speed merchant Paul Monge from Tanzania are some of the notable foreign figures who have confirmed participation in the rally.

Basing on the on going hot pre race verbal battle, the engine war is destined to have to settle four key battles in one; the Mitsubishi vs Subaru battle, local drivers against fellow locals vying for National Rally Championship [NRC] points, the top boys tussling it out for ARC points and the mother of all being the locals against foreign invaders.

The crop of Ugandan top brass vows to take the foreigners to a driving school by posting a 1,2,3,4,5 finish.

The top guns architecting the mission among others include, Alpha Rally Team pair of Riaz Kurji and Said Kadri in Subaru N8, 1998 African king Charles Muhangi of Horizon Rally team in his lucky Mitsubishi Evo 4 popularly known as 'Ekitaguriro', EMKA rally team's Emma Katto, National Champion Ponsiano Rwakataka, up coming corner specialist Umar Mayanja in Mitsubishi Evo 7 navigated by his wife Leila Mayanja and youngsters Storch and Kuku.

Kurji has even reached an extent of praying for his old nemesis Emma Katto to at least win the event if he him self falters- a rare gesture if not the first from the fish tycoon.

Muna Singh
Muna Singh

"I would rather Katto win it than the likes of Singh taking it from our own soil," says Kurji, the event's defending champion.

Kurji has even went on to contribute over 2 million shillings to another local rival, WO1 Ismail Lule of UPDF Harambe Rally team, in his campaign to acquire a new machine before the event.

Katto who missed last year's championship almost echoed his rival's sentiments this week. "Let them come, we have prepared something for them, this is a matter of national pride. They will go back shedding tears," he warned.

The ever vocal WBS sponsored Rwakataka couldn't miss the verbal feast. "Last year I finished second. This time I'm going for a 1st arrival on the podium. But even if I don't and another Uganda does, I will be the happiest,'' said the Kyotera based driver.

Despite talking much, Kurji will have to first make a 'sacrifice' for his gods that have haunted him in the last two events.

He was forced to surrender the lead in the Tanzania Rally with only two sections left due to the gear box mechanical problems before being impeded by tyre punctures in the Kenya Safari Rally, to finish outside point bracket.

Meanwhile, this year's Super Special Stage has had its format changed.

Unlike, the previous double circuit truck, this time round it will be a single track with cars released at an interval of one minute in a bid to give spectators non-stop action.

The stage will have a total distance of 2-3 km.

Kurji's Alpha Diary Products is the chief sponsor, with an injection of 200 million shillings, and Resort Hotel, Packaging Technology, Dolphins suites, WBS TV have joined in to co-sponsor what can rightly be called a war of engines.

ARC ranking

P EmontspoolBelgium10
Azar AnwarKenya10
Paul MongeZambia8
Baldes ChungrKenya8
Omar BakkessaKenya8
Emma KattoUganda6

By Ramathan Kasozi
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First published: April 15, 2006
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Ramathan Kasozi is a member of Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd. . A graduate Journalist, Kasozi has more than 5 years experience reporting on sports in Uganda for different print and broadcast media houses.