2017 ARC calendar:
Feb. 11-12: Rallye Bandana (Ivory Coast)
March 18-19: Safari Rally (Kenya)
Apr. 29-30: Sasol Rally (South Africa)
July 1-2: Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally (Uganda)
Aug 5-6: Rally of Tanzania (Tanzania)
Sep 9-10: Rwanda Mt. Gorilla Rally (Rwanda)
Oct 21-22: Zambia International Rally (Zambia)
After winning the opening race of the National Rally Championship (Sprint Rally), Jean Claude Gakwaya has set his sights on the 2017 Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally scheduled for September 8-10.
If Gakwaya goes ahead to achieve his goal, he will be the first Rwandan driver to win the African Rally Championship race in four years after Giancarlo Davite in 2013.
Burundian driver Valery Bukera won his first Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally title last year with Zambian Muna Singh Jr. finishing second. Gakwaya finished fourth and was the only Rwandan in the top ten.
Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally is the penultimate round of this year’s African Rally Championship calendar. Initially, Rwanda’s most prestigious motorsport event has been staged in August and has always been the fourth event on the seven-round calendar.
Zambian Mohammed Essa, driving a Subaru Impreza WRX STI won it in 2014, while the 2015 edition was claimed by Kenya’s Jaspreet Singh Chatthe in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo.
Gakwaya will be seeking to win his first Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally title when the competition takes to the dusty roads in Gako, Nyamata for the competitive sections.
“I am in the competition to win and after winning Sprint Rally, I am turning my focus to the next race which is the Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally. It is going to be tough but we have to prepare ourselves to be ready for the race,” said Gakwaya, who is currently Rwanda’s top rally driver.
Gakwaya noted that, regardless of what happens in the Mt. Gorilla Rally, he will also be looking to maintain his good start when it comes to the Huye Rally, which will be staged on October 28-29 and Ralye de Milles Collines, the last one race on the local calendar, set for December 15-16.
He stated that, “I have the experience when it comes to driving in Rwanda; my car is in fine condition and I look forward to finish on the podium this time around.”
Gakwaya, navigated by Claude Mugabo in a Subaru Impreza leads the race for the National Rally Championship title with 25 points, followed by Burundian crew of Din Imitiaz and Christophe Bigirimana, while Jean Giesen and Diaz Maceri are third with 15 points.