Motor rally driving is one of life’s great experiences, the freedom to go when and where you want to, cruising through sweeping bends and beautiful long straights is drama you ought not to miss.
If you’re an awesome rally enthusiast, you will off course be cheering the monstrous machines come this September, when local drivers like Davite Giancarlo, Christakis Fitidis, Elefter Mitraros, Edson Mungyereza, and Claude Kwizera stream the roads in style.
What is more taunting is where the sport is heading, how it is diminishing in the country.
Rwanda Automobile Club (RAC) and its president Christian Gakwaya need to address how to improve the sport, and more so conquering the spirit of Rwandan drivers
Surly; it is procession of misery; the sport is one great game spectators enjoy with vigor, most especially being lively, tough, and competitive. Am not trying to focus on problems alone, but the future of motorsport in the country.
I recently watched with admiration the Pearly of African rally sponsored by Shell in Kampala, an event which attracted 10 foreign entries and 25 local drivers.
Twenty-three year old Essa Mohammed from Zambia and Co-driver Greg Stead led from start to finish thereby becoming the sixth foreign driver to beat Ugandans on home turf. Rwanda’s champion Davite Giancarlo finished 3rd.
In his words, Davite felt the race for the African Rally Championship title is almost over after watching Essa widen the lead at the top of the chart. When asked to assess his standing, the Italian-born ace replied “It’s finished really, it’s almost over already.”
With three rallies left in Tanzania, Rwanda and Madagascar before the ARC season ends, Essa remains solid on being capped African continental champion, if the Zambian digs up a point from next month’s Kobil Rally in Tanzania. Conrad Rautenbach was the 2011 Champion after being crowned in colorfull ceremony in Delhi India.
It will remain a challenge for Rwanda drivers whose aim is to clinch titles, if they are to be African Rally Champions.
RAC needs to foster lasting solutions if they are to conquer driving spirits, otherwise when rally champs like Davite hang up their gears, in similar circumstances like Edmond Kazungu, Natalie Cox and John Murengezi, Rwanda’s Motorsport will be destined for doom, since there is no efforts to attract young drivers.
Former Rwanda Automobile Club president Yves Kagina and honorary president Dismas Kayibanda failed to turn RAC ina vibrant body, a challenge current president Gakwaya is facing.
Gakwaya needs to borrow a leaf from Rwanda cycling federation (Ferwacy). Numerous clubs can then register under the federation, for instance their over 10 clubs incorporated under the cycling federation, for the first time in Rwanda sports history.
Cycling will see a competitor feat in the latest 2012 London Olympic Games. Recently in the “Kwita Izina” cycling race, the country got its first yellow jersey.
The sport is being taken another level. What I am saying is that drivers in separate clubs can benefit from the federation in terms of facilitation, training and sponsorships packages.
Federations aim to achieve general objectives for clubs and federations answer sports questions in general since they won’t lope away from its responsibilities.
Recently in the Pearl of African rally in Uganda, Rwandan drivers like Christakis Fitidis and Elefter Mitraros switched tickets meaning they drive under the Uganda license.
The reason is clear-cut; drivers need to get involved in more competitions so that they gain points to climb the podium, or else, female drivers like Natalie Cox will continue to be rare breeds in the male-dominated sport.
RAC can place an excuse on the table in terms of sponsorship, for instance $50,000 is what KCB put in last year’s event, but organizing Tour du Rwanda is almost $500,000 for 7days a combination done by different corporate companies.
Well, we all know, rallying is very expensive, with standards of preparation especially if the campaign is on an international FIA level, but it cannot be complicated to organize a calendar to attract sponsors to fund local events.