Before the third round of the 2019 National Rally Championships in Masaka, the Clerk of Course, Jared Kalera promised safety first.
“We know very well all eyes are on the event because of safety concerns. But we have done enough deployment from police and village marshalls. For safety at the super special stage, we have widened the radius of the fence. Incase a car veers off, it’s safe enough for the fans,” Kalera promised last week.
And it was a smooth event as the crews and fans. Until defending champion Susan Muwonge lost control of her car and rammed into a couple of fans during the penultimate section of the rally, with many surviving but with fatal injuries in the process.
That and the false alarm that 2018 2WD champ Edwin Kalule had died during the incident were the only dent to the event, won by Ponsiano Lwakataka; his maiden win of the 2019 National Rally Championship.
“In the second last section, there was an incident involving Susan Muwonge when her car lost control after taking a jump and rammed into fans. No deaths have been confirmed yet but Edwin Kalule, another fan plus a kid had fatal injuries and have been rushed to Masaka hospital,” said a marshal who preferred anonymity.
“Kalule suffered severe injuries to his ribs and chest and there are attempts to air lift him to Kampala for further treatment but lets pray for him,” he added.
Lwakataka held his nerve to pull off a spirited fight and fulfill his pre-rally promise of settling for nothing less than victory. Lwakataka, who won this event last year, rallied on from fifth place after the opening day to finish top of the podium.
Christened Mafu-Mafu, he looked surely a man on mission as his Subaru Impreza N12B pounded the gravel stages of Masaka and Kyotera posting fastest times. However, luck was on his side as rival and favorite to win Jas Mangat was slapped with a four minute penalty after taking more than the stipulated time during service.
Lwakataka inherited the lead thereon till the end. Current championship leader Ronald Ssebuguzi and Leon Ssenyange finished second, 55 seconds behind Lwakataka. Duncan Mubiru put aside his steering troubles earlier on to take the final podium position 1:23 seconds off Lwakataka’s time.
Mangat was relegated to fourth overall after his penalty while Omar Mayanja capped off a good weekend with fifth position. Kepher Walubi finished his first rally of the season in sixth managing to pip Hassan Alwi who finished seventh by just 42 microseconds. 2017 champion Christakis Fitidis settled for eighth while Yassin Nasser and Ali Katumba will argue that they are still learning their car as they struggled to show the class they showed in Mukono last month.
Arthur Blick and George Semakula managed to finish their first rally together settling for 10th after a collision with a dog caused damage to their car.
Hajji Ismail Waliggo took top honours in the 2-wheel drive category five minutes ahead of Samuel Watendwa. Fred Senkumba finished third in the category.
NRC standings after round three
Ronald Sebuguzi 240 points
Hassan Alwi 170
Jas Mangat 160
Ponsiano Lwakataka 160
Duncan Mubiru 120