Jean Claude Gakwaya: The rally driver shifts focus to 2019 season

Jean Claude Gakwaya (Left), seen here with his navigator Jean Claude Mugabo, had his blue Subaru Impreza’s engine broken in an accident late last year, and was not replaced until mid-2018. File photo.

Two-time national champion, Jean Claude Gakwaya, has turned his attention to the 2019 National Rally Championship’s season after failing the mission to win it for a record third consecutive time this year.

Gakwaya who races with his Subaru Impreza car suffered mechanical setbacks late last year, which would not be fixed until mid this year after missing three races on the 2018 calendar.

The driver did not compete in the opening Rally de L’Est in March, the Huye Rally in June as well as the Pearly of Africa Rally in Uganda held in July.

Speaking to Times Sport on Wednesday, Gakwaya blamed the delay in fixing his car as the reason why the title was snatched from his hands but promised he will bounce back stronger for the 2019 season.

“We only raced in the last three races out of a total six events, which made it impossible to retain the title. Had I at least taken part in one more competition, I could have won the championship,” a visibly regretful Gakwaya said.

On the six-race calendar for the 2018 championship, rally sensation Gakwaya only participated in three namely; the Sprint Rally in September, Mountain Gorilla Rally in October and Rallye de Mille Collines earlier this month.

“But it’s not time to pity myself or make excuses, I have to regroup, train, and ensure I bounce back stronger next season.”

With the mechanical troubles denting Gakwaya’s bid for a third title in a row, Burundian Din Imtiaz capitalized on his absence to win the championship – with 86 points – for a historic first time, three points ahead of first runner-up Gakwaya. Eric Gakwaya completed top three, with 61 points.

Of the three races that Gakwaya managed to be part of, he won two – Sprint Rally and Rallye de Mille Collines – and finished third during the Mountain Gorilla Rally.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

 

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