The Rise and Rise of Lwakataka
Posiano Lwakataka is still confident that he will make it at the final Independence Rally October 14-16 in Mukono and Buikwe districts.
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First published: September 14, 2011
When it comes to bragging in Uganda, Rally driver Ponsiano Lwakataka only shares the super rights with Kick boxer, Moses Golola. But in Lwakataka’s case, many more people say that he deserves to brag considering where he has come from visa vis the star cult status he has established in the sport of motor rallying in Uganda.
The rise of Lwakataka
In the sport of motor rallying, it’s a rare occurrence in the last two decades that a driver is compared to the skills of the former Dembe Rally team driver, Karim Hirji or corner specialist Chipper Adams. When the duo’s reign came to an end, there arose the era of the likes of Charles Muhangi, Charlie Lubega, Moses Lumala and Emma Katto before the arrival of the late Riyaz Kurji on the scene.
But as the “hey” days of the above quartet seem to be over, one can hear ringing bells alerting the ever vocal 38 year old Ponsiano Lwakataka to take over the mantle.
Rwakataka has gone an extra mile of establishing an empire of motor rallying in his family. His wife Rose Rwakataka is among the most popular female rally drivers in the country only next to Suzan ‘Iron Lady’ Muwonge. As if this is not enough, he has embarked on grooming his children too, in this sport.
From fishmonger to motor rallying
Lwakataka, formerly a fish monger along Lake Victoria, joined motor rallying a decade ago plying his trade in a lesser Toyota Lavin that could only render him a participant in events other than a competitor.
In 2004, he climbed the ladders when he acquired Subaru Impreza N4 which his fans nicknamed ‘Yellow bird.’ Despite the acquisition of that machine, things never worked out till 2005 when he claimed the National Rally Championship (NRC) title after beating the likes of big boys Ronald Ssebuguzi and the Riyaz Kurji (RIP).
That triumph was his turning point. Since then Lwakataka never stepped back the pedal as evidenced by his performance in 2007 when he won his second National Rally Championship title.
After a one year holiday, he returned in 2009 in style, armed with a powerful Subaru Impreza N8 machine that hasn’t only tormented local drivers but also left a mark at the international stage.
Pearlof Africa Rally Champion
Lwakataka’s rallying career reached its apex in June this year (2011) when he lifted one of Africa’s most prestigious championship, the Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally that had eluded him for a long time despite giving his all in the competition over the years. This was to a surprise of most of the Ugandan motor rallying fraternity basing on the international big names he tussled it out with. This included African reigning champion Jimmy Whyte from Zimbabwe, Burundi's Allan Bethise, Christak Fitidis of Rwanda and the Madagascan pair of Fredrick Rokotomanga and Ronarievo Jean.
His victory meant that he joins the elite class of greats, Charles Muhangi, Charlie Lubega, and Chipper Adams as the only Ugandans to have won that championship.
The 38 year old was overjoyed after the victory. “I had suffered painful exits for long. This is just a beginning and the best is yet to come, because my target is to once rule the African Continent,” said Lwakataka shortly after arriving at the finishing Podium.
Ending a painful wait
He was referring to his painful exits in the 2005, 2006 and 2010 editions in which he narrowly missed winning the championship. In 2005, just like in 2006, Lwakataka was relegated to the second position behind the late Riyaz Kurj and in 2010 he was only denied by mechanical problems of his car, dropping in the final section while commanding a comfortable lead.
He has just punctuated his so-far-so-good season with a victory in the Eastern Motor Rally championship, the second last on the National Rally Calendar. Lwakataka’s win wasn’t only a big blow to Suzan’ iron lady’ Muwonge’s quest of becoming the first lady to scoop the Ugandan National Rally Championship title but also meant that the title might go on wire. This is after Lwakataka cut Muwonge’s lead to only 25 points.
Tough road to success
As the a common aphorism goes that no gain without pain, Lwakataka’s path to success hasn’t been a bed of roses throughout his eleven year old motor rallying career as he is often endured through a forest of controversies especially with the Ugandan Motor Rally governing body, FMU.
Among his notable hiccups, two years ago Rwakataka was banned from the sport as a result of fielding his under-aged sons in a sprint he had organized in Mukono. This is contrary to the rules of the sport.
This occurred shortly before the 2005 saga in the Pearl of Africa Rally in which he was accused of tampering with his engine after posting an ‘abnormal’ time in the Circuit. Lwakataka though refutes the allegation. “It wasn’t true. I just decided to heavy my foot on the pedal,” he brags.
Controversies surrounding Lwakataka seem to be endless; in the previous two seasons, top drivers, including Ssebuguzi, declined to take part in any rally in which the later was involved in organization. This was in protest that Lwakataka manipulates events.
Ponsiano Lwakataka cruising to victory.
Whatever the case, Lwakataka amidst his brag-ish nature, remains the current leading rally driver in the Uganda whose only undoing emanates from the unquestionable competition from his adversaries.
Hoping for more glory
After failing to score even a single point from Tanzania Rally held this month – September 2011, the 2006 National Champion Posiano Lwakataka is still confident that he will make it at the final Independence Rally October 14-16 in Mukono and Buikwe districts. Lwakataka hopes to reclaim the title from reigning National Champion, Nasser Mutebi. He will have to fight the Iron Lady who leads the pack with 365 points and currently puts him in second place with 340 points.
“I know I can comfortably win the NRC title without even participating in the Tanzanian Rally. In fact I had changed my mind not to make it to Tanzania but my fans have advised me not to take any more chances for granted. You know in motor rallying the driver commands only 20% to his or her success and the rest belongs to the almighty God,” Lwakataka had said before the past Tanzania Rally, on his chances of lifting the championship.
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First published: September 14, 2011
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.