Jas Mangat came out top of the National Rally Championship season opening Mbarara Rally after Saturday’s run on the dusty farm roads of Bushenyi and Ishaka. Last year’s Mbarara Rally winner, Mangat maintains a strong lead of over 30 seconds over his closes rival, Arthur Blick going into the Sunday leg. Hassan Alwi was third.
The rally which dedicated to fallen legend Charles Muhangi saw all competing crews visit the former African Rally Champion’s home in Bushenyi after the completion of the second stage. Here, together with fans, they laid wreaths on his grave before proceeding with the day’s action.
Over 35 crews started the opening leg of the rally. But Andy Musoke became the first victim in the first section, landing heavily after taking a max jump and breaking his rear cross member before eventually hitting a bank. Abdul Kateete also later rolled in the first section.
Blick and co driver Unisan Bakunda showed great pace reminiscent of their 2015 title winning season as the crew were rallying together for the first time since parting in 2015. They finished second on three of the opening four sections to move into second, 15 seconds ahead of Alwi.
Alwi who was also competing for the first time with his new navigator Siraje Kyambadde showed early signs of great pace and a strong partnership to come.
Duncan ‘Kikankane’ Mubiru gambled on rallying in a Subaru Imprezza N14 despite his concerns over the power of the car. His gamble seemed to have paid off as the car nicknamed ‘Jajja 14’ by fans proved again that Mbarara roads are its favorite as they lie 4th just eight seconds behind Alwi.
Three time national Champion Ronald Ssebuguzi and Leon Ssenyange, in fifth, seemed to keep their cards close to their chests as they favoured finishing to going all out. Sunday is a longer day and test.
2017 Champion Christakis Firidis and new navigator Ratanveer Darbaf are 6th overall. Yassin Nasser and Ali Katumba who are debuting their Subaru Imprezza GVB put up a strong performance finishing seventh a second off Fitidis. Local boy Jonas Kansiime is the highest placed Group S car and lies 8th and his knowledge of the area seemed to have aided his run. His three minutes ahead in the class despite carrying a 10 second penalty
Defending Champion Susan Muwonge who opened the route seemed to struggle with the duty as she had to clean the loose gravel for the cars behind, losing valuable time against her rivals. She finished the day a distant ninth just over two minutes behind the leader. Omar Mayanja the 2017 Mbarara rally winner topped off the top ten.
Sunday sees the crews tackle five competitive sections in Mbarara district with a total competitive distance of 119 kilometeres.