Rwanda Automobile Club (RAC) has been blamed for “mishandling” the recently concluded Huye Rally in Southern Province.
It is a week now since controversy rocked the 5th round of the Rwanda National Rally championship with the winner and first runners-up still yet to be announced.
Foreign drivers, in particular, protested what they described as unfairness in the conduct of the competition.
Some even refused to step on to the podium at the end of the race and have threatened boycotting future motor rallies in Rwanda unless officials take concrete measures to make classification process objective.
Among the reasons advanced by foreign drivers – from Burundi and Uganda – is the lack of fairness and bias during the flagging off of the drivers and failure to determine the winner of the race.
“We will not participate again, “Burundi rally driver Mohamed Roshanali, who claimed he had won the competition, told Times Sport.
He added: “We won the race, but RAC announced different time putting me behind Jean Claude Gakwaya, which is impossible because I beat every driver during the race and everyone saw that both in the first and second competitive sections. There is no way how timers can lie about it.”
“We have been patient, we are the last foreign drivers to come to Rwanda to compete because other drivers already made their decision since the Mountain Gorilla Rally this year, that’s why when they were invited this time round they claimed their cars had technical problems,” he claimed.
All Burundian drivers boycotted the awards ceremony, which led RAC president Eric Gakwaya to announce that the top two positions would not be announced immediately, promising a decision would be taken within 48 hours – yet a week later no announcement had come.
Another Burundian, Zamin Mwanantemba, who was cruising a Toyota Celica, also expressed discontent. “In rally, everyone wants to win, but if you are beaten then you should accept defeat, this is just a sport, not a war.
“When you finish a section, you time yourself; however, RAC kind of manipulates your time, only to find a driver you beat is ahead of you”.
Ugandan drivers, Rogers Kigundu and Erwin Kalule, also expressed concerns, urging RAC to clean its house or else they would stop competing in Rwanda.
RAC’s Gakwaya has since promised that a commission would look into the issue. “We are looking into the complaints,” that’s all he could say.
This year’s Huye Rally, the fifth leg of the national rally calendar, was the 30th edition with the rally being organized annually in memory of the late Claude Gakwaya, one of the best ever Rwandan rally drivers, who passed away in a motor accident in 1986.