Rwanda’s top driver Rudy Cantanhede in his Subaru Impreza has been seeded ninth in the Alliance Insurance-Kobil Rally of Tanzania that rolls off this weekend in Dar es Salaam.
Cantanhede will be flagged off behind Zambian Muna Singh (Subaru), Japanese Miyoshi Hideaki (Mitsubishi), Kenyan Asad Anwar (Subaru), South African female crew of Lola Verlaque and Megan Verlaque (Subaru), Uganda’s Emmanuel Kato, Kenya’s Anwar Pandya, Zimbabwe’s Jamie White and Kenya’s Azar Anwar.
The opening round of the 2008 Africa Rally Championship has 15 drivers eligible to score points. Only two of the 15 are Tanzanians. Over ten Tanzanian top drivers quit the sport last season.
Cantanhede who navigated fellow Belgium international Luc Requille to win the 1985 edition for Rwanda is making his first attempt at the elusive Africa Rally Championship title.
The South African drivers Lola and Ben Pelser who had their home round struck off the 2008 calendar have opted to start their campaign in Tanzania.
They are also expected to compete in the KCB Kenya Safari rally next month and the Pearl of Africa Uganda rally in April before heading to Rwanda for the Gorilla Mountain rally in June.
Meanwhile, Uganda’s Kato who is making a third attempt at the indefinable African Rally Championship title is also out to emulate 1999 Africa champion Charles Muhangi who is the sixth regional driver to have won the continental title.
Other notable regional drivers who have won the African title include; Burundi’s Walter Costa during the 1990 edition, Rwanda’s Luc Requille in 1985 edition, Kenya’s David Horsey and Shekhar Mehta in 1984 and 1981 editions respectively. Reigning Africa champion Conrad Rautenbach of Zimbabwe will not defend his title as he is preparing to join the Citroen team in the second round of the World Rally Championship due in Sweden this weekend.