The two Shell-sponsored crews of Arthur Blick and Ronald Ssebuguzi have expressed their readiness ahead of the 2022 Shell-V Power Pearl of Africa Rally.
The much anticipated event – the third round of the African and Uganda rally championships – is due May 6-8, 2022.
2015 National Rally Champion Blick has stated that he will be going for a podium finish while Ssebuguzi has vowed to “compete strongly.”
“We are very thankful for Shell Vivo for the support and we fell that with their backup, we will give it 100%, me and my team we are looking forward for the rally,” stated Blick in a media brief with the Journalists at Shell Lugogo.
“The fans should support us by using Shell V-Power and Shell Helix products.”
The Pearl Rally returns on the calendar after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19.
Blick, then driving with George Ssemakula, finished 3rd in 2019, in a Pearl Rally that was won by Singh Baryan while Yassin Nasser came second.
This time, Blick will be racing alongside his son Alestair Blick as a navigator in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X.
“He has improved a lot,” Blick said of his son. “He is doing very well, this is going to be his third rally, and God willing we will get a podium place.”
After retiring at the Rukaari Lake Mburo rally, Blick managed to finish third at the Kaliro Sugar EMC and will hope for at least similar fortunes this time round.
The rally will begin with a shakedown on Friday at Mzuri.
The drivers are braced for five stages on Saturday – Shekar Mehta, Kivuvu 1, Kasaku Chai, Nakiwunga 1 and Kivuvu 2.
Sunday’s showdown will have four stages – Shekar Mehta 2, Kivuvu 3, Nakiwunga 2 and Kivuvu 4, with an overall total rally distance of 426.50km.
Blick commented: “The routes are technical, wet in some areas, it is raining a lot these days so it’s good to be a technical route and we need to use our heads. At the end of the day it is going to be about survival for the toughest.”
Forty Eight (48) crews have been registered for the event, including a couple of foreign drivers like Gomes Leroy from Zambia, Jean Giessen from Rwanda, Imitiaz Awan from Burundi, Wahome Maxime and Wahome Jeremiah from Kenya among others.
He adds: “We are super excited for the coming of foreign drivers, in the last years this event has hosted the biggest number of foreign competitors, it just shows you that the race is growing. And it will also helps us the local drivers gauge ourselves against the big shots on the continent.”
Ronald Ssebuguzi Buoyant
Ronald Ssebuguzi will drive alongside his navigator Anthony Mugambwa in a Lancer Evo IX.
He is returning to IX after recent spells with Evo X.
“I am very excited to have the Pearl of Africa Rally back after two years,” Ssebuguzi started.
“I will be in Evo IX and am hopeful that I will compete strongly. We have checked on the routes and we are familiar with them. We are not fearing any foreign driver.
“I have taken part in about 17 Pearl of Africa Rallies, but this will be my third since 2018. And am very ready for the challenge ahead.”
This year in NRC, he has not finished both events in Mbarara and Kaliro.
Driving alongside navigator Leon Ssenyange, Ssebuguzi retired with a Turbo problem in 2019 Pearl Rally. He was second in 2018.
Did you know? Ssebuguzi also got a Pearl of Africa Rally podium finish (3rd) in 2006 with Navigator Alfred Lubambula then driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV in a race that was won by Riyaz Kurji.
Featured image – Ronald Ssebuguzi in action back in 2019. (Photo by Innocent Mutaawe).