OLIVIER Costa will be flagged off first in today’s 372.80km section after taking an early lead in yesterday’s 2.4km Super Special Stage at Gahanga quarry.
Behind his powerful Subaru N11, the Burn-Energy drink sponsored driver showed the pack how it’s done in the hair pins (sharp corners) as he posted the quickest time of 2minutes and 24 seconds, a second clear of Raaji Bharij (Kenya) and Peter Horsey (Kenya) who tied in second place.
But the driver can not afford to rest on his laurels as the real battle sets off this morning with a long and demanding 62.90km competitive section from Nzove to Kirenge.
“I’m happy with today’s performance but this is just the beginning. It is going to be a lot tougher tomorrow and on Sunday so we have to wait and see how it goes,” Costa told Times Sport yesterday.
Bharij will set off in second place while Kenyan ace and Pirelli Star driver Horsey will dust off in third place.
Horsey, who is navigated by Uganda’s Moses Matovu in a Mitsubishi Evo9, sees the Nzove-Kirenge as a big hurdle.
“It is a very long section which calls for a lot from drivers so it will be interesting to see how the guys react,” he said.
The other outstanding local driver was Christakis Fitidis (Subaru) who claimed fifth place after clocking 2minutes and 25 seconds.
Meanwhile, it was a forgettable night for national rally champion Davite Giancarlo who bruised his Subaru after straying off the road. Giancarlo finished last (02:52) and has a big hurdle ahead of him today.
After the tiring Nzove-Kirenge stage, drivers will go through five other competitive sections before winding up with a 36.10km stretch from Mukoto to Nyacyonga.
The three-day KCB Mountain Gorilla Rally has attracted 15 drivers.
2009 KCB Mt. Gorilla Rally
Day 1 results
O. Costa/ J.F Ruhashyankiko (Subaru N11) 02:23
R. Bharij/K. Henri (Subaru N10) 02:24
P. Horsey/M. Matovu (Mitsubishi Evo 9) 02:24
M. Essa/A. Naik (Subaru N11) 02:25
C. Fitidis/ G. Dekelver (Subaru N12) 02:25
V. Bukera/K. Nital (Subaru N10) 02:28
R. Cantanhede/B. Cantanhede (Subaru N8) 02:28
N. Hans/ D. Sihoka (Mitsubishi Evo 9) 02:28
C. Attwell/ G. Stead (Subaru N12) 02:29
A. Horsey/ O. Taylor (Mitsubishi Evo 8) 02:29
M. Adrianjafy/ T. Rahamefy (Subaru WRX) 02:29
T. Saegerman/ V. Robert (Subaru GT) 02:30
A. Dethise/ F. Musafili (Subaru N11) 02:37
E. Mitraros/ P. Paganin (Subaru N10) 02:38
D. Giancarlo/ S. Vindevogel (Subaru N11) 02:52