Ronald Sebuguzi and Leon Ssenyange will aim to keep hold of their Uganda National Rally Championship lead as they embark on this weekend’s Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally.
Sebuguzi tops the standings with 240 points, 60 points ahead of second placed Hassan Alwi, with two-time national champions Ponsiano Lwakataka and Jas Mangat a further 20 points behind ahead of the fourth round of the 2019 NRC calendar.
For the past three seasons, a good performance by the leaders at this point of the season has aided their fight for the championship. The Pearl Rally – also round five of the African Rally Championship – counts for 140 points.
Sebuguzi, who has three national titles to his name – 2006, 2009 and 2014 – hopes this year will finally deliver him his fourth title to equal rally legends Charlie Lubega and Sam Ssali.
“Twice we have come so close to a fourth. I believe this will be the year for us to claim a fourth. But it’s one we have to work for,” said Ssenyange who is yet to win a national title with Sebuguzi.
This will be Sebuguzi’s career 15th start in the rally, but overall victory continues to elude him, and only grabbing podium positions in 2006, 2010 and 2014.
He has also failed to finish the rally on eight occasions in his career.
Sebuguzi and Ssenyange topped the national category during last year’s Pearl Rally and they hope they can match that milestone again or go one better this time.
But Ssenyange acknowledges that with the field of drivers they will be against, winning the rally overall will be a huge bonus for them as a crew, but not one they can lay back and ignore.
“It is every driver’s pride to win this event. Second place overall was good for us last year. We want to go one better and win it,” Ssenyange added.
Sebuguzi and Ssenyange started the season finishing fourth in Mbarara before the picked up their first win of the season in Mukono and finished second in Masaka.
Defending African Rally Champion Manvir Baryan will headline the Pearl Rally which will be contested for by 51 crews.
Manvir, who is on course for his third African title, together with navigator Drew Sturrock have won both the 2017 and 2018 editions of the rally.
Pearl of Africa Rally kicks off on Friday with a 4.36-kilometer super special stage at the Motorsports Arena in Busiika before heading to Kayunga District for four stages – all repeated – covering a total competitive distance of 210 kilometers.