NATIONAL rally champion Christakis Fitidis is targeting a top three finish at the weekend’s KCB Pearl of Africa Rally in Uganda.
Fitidis, who finished third in last year’s edition, is desperate to match that display after a slow start to the 2011 African Rally Championship.
“Top three is definitely the target. It’s a very competitive series so a top three finish would be fantastic for us,” he told Times Sport before his departure.
“But it’s going to be tougher than last year so I can’t get ahead of myself.”
“We’ve got to keep our feet on the ground because there’s more competition this year.”
On top of defending ARC champion Jamie Whyte of Zimbabwe, this year’s edition has also attracted 2007 African champion and current ARC leader Conrad Rautenbach, 1999 African champion Charles Muhangi and 2004 African champion Muna Singh.
Others include former Uganda rally champions Lwakataka, Ronald Ssebuguzi and Godfrey Lubega; Susan Muwonge ‘Super Lady’, Wycliffe Bukenya, Jas Mangat, Edson Munghereza, , John Barlow Lumu, Ismail Lule, Godfrey Nsamba, Mansoor Sanya, Burundian Allan Bethise and the Madagascar pair of Frederic Rakotomanga and Ranarivelo Jean, Satvinder Saini, Ismail Ortega.
The 528km race will dust off with a super special stage at Lubiri Double Circuit this Friday. Thereafter, cars will head to Mukono and Lugazi for the second and final legs on Saturday and Sunday.
Random drug tests await Pearl drivers
In a related development, drivers have been told to brace themselves for random drug tests.
The Federation of Motorsport Clubs of Uganda (FMU) president George Kagimu, who is also the event manager, warned that officials would pick drivers at random during and after the race.
“Many people may not even know that motorsport now tests its competitors like any other sport. The Pearl Rally is an international event so we should be ready for drug tests. It actually started last year. When they pick interest in a competitor they test them. Even last year a Ugandan driver was tested,” Kagimu was quoted as saying.
Drug abuse and performance enhancement are against the principle of fair competition in sports.
The tests not only ensure a level playing field and integrity of the sport, but also safety.
This year’s edition has adopted a ‘Safety First’ theme.