The rally circuit in Rwanda provides for some of the most challenging courses, with winding roads and smooth gravel surfaces, the sport however is taking a beating with regards development of local talent.
One driver has however come through the adversity to stand as one of the best in Africa this season.
Olivier Costa is a Rwanda based rally driver who competed in Africa for the very first time this year. Driving a Subaru Impreza N11 and sponsored by Burn energy drink, Costa came up against the best in Africa to complete a commendable 4th overall in the ARC standings.
His first attempt at the Africa Rally Championship is a tale of persistence and hard work. Costa and his crew travelled over 2000miles across Africa to participate in the different rallies.
Each course presented a new challenge, from the bumpy rides in eastern Africa to the smooth and fast surfaces in the south.
Each rally was also a story of its own, from the parties in Uganda to jumping on the “back of a buggy” (pickup truck) to have dinner in Harare, from frustration in Nairobi to the first time on an international podium Dar es Salaam.
The journey to coming fourth in Africa started in Tanzania at the KOBIL Rally which is the 1st stage of the ARC. This rally was described as a “first course” and Costa came from behind in the super special stage beating the odds as a rookie to come 3rd overall.
The next stage was in Kenya at the famous KCB Safari Rally. Costa had made an attempt at this rally last dropping out due to car failure. The past experience paid off as he managed to fish the most challenging rally in Africa albeit in 17th place.
He followed this feat with a 5th overall position in Uganda at the KCB Pearl of Africa rally. It was at this event that Riyaz Kurji (RIP) passed away.
The rally was stopped at the halfway mark and the FIA regulations meant all competitors would be graded on the basis of the position they were in at the time the rally was stopped.
The Zambia stage of the ARC was also the most frustrating for Costa as he broke the gearbox of his N11 Subaru, retiring prematurely from the event when he was standing third overall.
Costa’s biggest career achievement to date came at the TOYOTA Zimbabwe challenge rally, coming 2nd overall at the rally and cementing his fourth standing on the championship on his rookie season in the ARC.
Costa hopes to take on Africa in the next season, in an interview he said he did not expect so much from his first season, and was hoping to gain experience and see what he can do with it in subsequent seasons.
He added that he would enter some other events in Kenya and Uganda to build his experience and strengthen his chances of winning the ARC.
Last week, he went into the Mountain Gorilla rally at home soil hoping for his first victory on the ARC circuit; unfortunately he didn’t finish after crashing his Subaru on day two.
The Belgium-born ace looks at rally as a means of fostering togetherness in Rwanda. As a sport rally brings people together and can act as a medium for dissemination of social awareness campaigns like road safety.
Costa credits his current success to his sponsors Burn Energy drink, the BF-Goodrich tyres and his technical crew from Quick Auto in KIgali.