Much at stake at the prestigious 2022 Shell V-Power Pearl of Africa Rally that will go on for two days – Saturday and Sunday.
This, sponsored by Shell who injected Sh250m, is the third event on both calendars of National and Africa Rally Championships.
After Thursday’s scrutineering, the first of it’s kind Shakedown was held on Friday at Mzuri Africa in Mukono.
The 3.7km shakedown, Initiated to determine the start order for the Africa Rally Championship Drivers, saw Karen Patel set the best time.
But Duncan Mubiru (Kikankane) rolled over in his Ford Proto during his disastrous attempt.
Later on Friday evening, the crews were flagged off at Namanve in a colourful event headed by former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi.
The drivers are now braced for 517km, of which 195km are competitive, on gravel roads in the sugar canes and tea plantations.
FMU confirmed a total of nine competitive sections which will be rerun starting in Lugazi on Saturday with five stages – 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.
The Federation of Motorsports Clubs of Uganda (FMU) have, in lead up to this event, warned the fans on safety.
The Pearl of Africa Rally, returning to Uganda after a two-year hiatus, will be held under a ‘yellow card’ which was issued in 2019, the last time it was held in the Country.
This means that Uganda may lose its eligibility to host future Africa Rally Championships in case of any safety concerns, FIA warned.
A total of 49 crews have been listed – 38 from Uganda, Seven from Kenya and one each from Italy, Zambia, Belgium and Burundi.
The last two Pearl Rallies in Uganda (2018 and 2019) were won by Manveer Baryan from Kenya.
Besides Baryan, few foreign drivers – Johnny Gemmel (2002), Conrad Rautenbach (2007), Jamie Whyte (2008 and 2010), Mohammed Essa (2012) and Rajbir Rai (2014) have won the Pearl Rally.
Hassan Alwi, with his navigator Enock Olinga, in a Subaru Impreza STi N14, was the last Ugandan to win the Pearl Rally in 2016.
Jas Mangat (2013), Ponsiano Lwakataka (2011), Riyaz Kurji (2005, before driving for Kenya), Charlie Lubega (2000, 2003, 2004), Chipper Adams (1999, 1997), Charles Muhangi (1998) and Karim Hirji (1996) are the Ugandans to have won the Pearl.
Among the country’s flag bearers, Ponsiano Lwakataka, National Rally Championship leader after wins in Mbarara and Kaliro, will fancy his chances to stun a classy field.
But Nasser Yassin and Arthur Blick who finished second and third in 2019, will also have a big shout.