Jean Claude Gakwaya and Jean Claude Mugabo have promised a stellar performance in the Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally, which kicks off this weekend.
Despite the anticipated stiff competition in a race that is the penultimate round of the African Rally Championship (ARC), the Rwandan crew is confident of defying the odds.
The race could also decide the title winner in a race where Kenya’s Manvir Baryan and Zambia’s Leroy Gomes favorites.
The home crew will cruise in their Subaru Impreza, hoping to do better than last year’s edition where they finished 4th overall.
“Irrespective of the experienced and probably more skilled foreign drivers from Kenya, Uganda and Zambia with better cars, we are confident about doing better than last year,” Mugabo told Times Sport on Wednesday.
He added that, “Our advantage is that we know the routes better and we are prepared to push to the limit.”
Mugabo admitted that they expect this year’s race to be more competitive than the last edition but promised that they are prepared to put up a solid performance to secure positive results.
The duo registered to compete for this year’s ARC points but they have only raced in the V-Power Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally. The duo finished in 9th position out of the 47 drivers that participated.
ARC title race leader, Baryan driving a Skoda, leads the standing with 65 points, 12 points ahead of Gomes.
Twenty crews to battle
According to Rwanda Automobile Club, 20 crews have registered for this year’s race—the other drivers include; Uganda’s Fitidis Christakis, who is navigated by Rwandan Eric Nzamwita in their Mitsubishi Evo X RC2.
Local rally fans will be pleased to see former national champion Davite Giancarlo and navigator Sylvia Vindevogeli in their Evo X, racing in Rwanda for the first time after a one year suspension.
Burundi driver Rudy Cantanhede, who has won the Mountain Gorilla Rally 4 times, will be in Rwanda driving an Evo IX.
Reigning champion Bukera Valery/Khettia Nital will be here to defend his title, which he won driving a Subaru Impreza N12. Christian Remezo is the other driver from Burundi, while another Kenya crew Piero Camobbio and Slivia Frigo, has enlisted too.
The Rwandan flag will be flown by Gakwaya, Diotis Gakuba, Fabrice Nyirimdandi and Alain Murenzi, whereas Abdu Kateete, Adam Essa Rauf, Samuel Watendwa and Gilberto Balondemu are the other crews from Uganda.
Day one will have five stages covering a total competitive distance of 74.52km from Kigali Convention Centre to Rugende on Friday morning before the Super stage at Amahoro National Stadium in the afternoon.
Action will continue on Saturday with eight competitive stages covering a total distance of 129.43km traversing the areas of Nyamata, Rilima, Nyamizi-MINAGRI, Gaharwa-Nemba, Gako-Gasenyi then back to Gasenyi-Nemba before the closing ceremony and prize giving at Nemba Airstrike.