Twenty-eight teams have registered for this year’s Mountain Gorilla Rally, which is the fifth round on the FIA/African Rally Championship (ARC) calendar.
The three-day event is scheduled for next weekend at Amahoro national stadium for the Special Super Stage on Friday, before the main event moves to Gako in Nyamata, Bugesera district, Eastern Province.
Current leader of the ARC, Don Smith of Kenya is expected to spearhead the foreign entries with Uganda sending the highest number of drivers with 22 followed by Rwanda 15, Burundi 7, Kenya 2 and Zambia 2.
The two other ARC contenders, Zambia’s Muna Singh and Abdu Sempebwa from Uganda, have registered for the race.
With a 29-points lead over Singh, Smith has to make sure he finishes both the last events to help Kenya retain the continental title for the second-year running.
However, Kenya’s Jaspteet Chatthe, the reigning ARC champion has opted out of defending the title for the second consecutive season.
Haji Sempebwa will be navigated by Ahmed Kayingwa Minjo in a Subaru Impreza, the crew finished 10th last year.
Momo Rally Team will be among the seven teams from Rwanda represented by Mohammed Roshanali and Youssouf Habimana, who finished 8th last year.
Rwandan Jean Claude Gakwaya and Jean Claude Mugabo form another local crew that has registered for the race. Last year, they were excluded from competition after falling so far behind their schedule time, the so called ‘Over Time Limit (OTL)’.
Zambia’s Ismail Shermohamed and Vihir Patel from Goliath Racing Team will be among the new entrants competing in Rwanda for the first time, using a Ford Fiesta. They are third with 15 points going into round 5 of the ARC.
The Subaru leads with nine rally cars in the race followed by Mitsubishi with 8, Toyota 5, Peugeots 3, VW 1 and Ford 1.
Clerk of the Course, Eric Maxime Nzamwita said preparations for the Rally are in high gear and that the organizers, the Rwanda Automobile Club, are only waiting for real action to start.
“We have got our plans ready with a total of 13 competitive stages with Nyamata town hosting the shortest spectacle of 4.53kms both on tarmac and gravel. The special stage will be done twice like the rest of the other stages,” said Nzamwita.
The event will start from Amahoro National Stadium while the main Service Park will be held at the Nyamata stadium.
Provisional list of drivers:
Muna Sigh, Don Smith, Musa Kabega, Haji Abdu Sempembwa, Ismail Shermohamed, Jean Claude Gakwaya, Mohammed Roshanali, Sultan Kalule, Kepher Walubi, Fred Busulwa, Christopher Kigozi, Pole Pole Wilbert, Adam Essa Rauf, Geoffrey Samba.
Others are; Rudy Cantanhede, Alif Karmali, Zamin Mwanantera, Fabrice Nyiridandi, Jonas Kansiime, Andy Musoke, Ismael Otega, Ismali Lule, Eric Gakwaya, Tassor Gakuba, Jamvier Mutuga, Semana Genese and Gratien Rutabingwa.