The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: 2012 Motor Sport Round Up

The calendar year 2012 was an eventful year for Rwandan rally. On the local scene it was the year when national champion Davite Giancarlo successfully defended his national rally championship crown.

Rwanda's Rally boss Christian Gakwaya

On the international scene, Giancarlo, navigated by Sylvia Vindevogel once again proved a hard nut to break when finished second for a second year running in the FIA African Rally Championship after losing the title to 22-year-old Mohammed Essa from Lusaka, Zambia.

Though the sport is usually hampered with financial constraints to acquire or either repair their expensive Subaru Imprezas, the local rally drivers kept the flame burning by sacrificing their resources to make this year more thrilling one.

Giancarlo, continued his dominance of the national rally championship after he won the Rally de Huye in December. The African Rally championship driver scooped his fourth title in a row with 102 points on the back of winning the Sprint de Rusasa and Rally de Huye.

He finished second in the Rally de l'est and Rally du Nord, but crashed out while leading on SS2 in the Mt. Gorilla rally.

Costa Olivier finished second with 92 points while Ange Cyatangabo emerged champion of the two wheel drive category with 71.5 points and Dusquene Christophe scooped the navigators champion title.

Johnny Murengezi finished fourth on 68 points; Claude Kwizera fifth on 64.5 points; Felekani Mayaka sixth on 50 points with Janvier Mutuga and Serge Rusagara finishing 7th, 8th and 9th with 44 and 17 points respectively.

KCB Mt. Gorilla Rally

This year's KCB Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally was one of the better run events in the FIA African Rally Championship series calendar-thanks to the dedicated team of young organisers comprising Christian Gakwaya and Salim Abdulgani ,Fabrice Semana and Eric Gakwaya.

This particular edition will perhaps go down in the folklore as one of the most successful events. It treated spectators to some exhilarating displays. It was encouraging to see picturesque "fast and twisty" stages running up and down the mountains.

With Zambian Essa and his Zimbabwe partner Greg Stead sealing ARC championship in Rally Tanzania, only 17 cars entered the Kigali based tour.

Spectator fever was incredible. The super special alone attracted some 6000 spectators. There was no littering reported and most importantly no alcohol consumption at the super special witnessed-kudos to spectators for setting a good precedent.

Action-wise, the rally was full of drama. Giancarlo and Vindevogel crashed out with a sheared ball joint while leading on SS2. Cristakis Fitidis wasn't lucky either as he rolled his Subaru in one of the tricky sections.

Veteran driver Elefter Mitraros and his partner Paolo Paganin in a Subaru Impreza emerged the winner with a cumulative time of 3.55.14 hours followed by Olivier Costa and Didier Duguese in a similar make on 4.08.80 hours.

Tanzania Puma energy rally

Essa and co-driver Greg Stead won the Tanzania Puma energy rally in style by an overall victory in Dar es salaam.

Essa led the event from start to finish clocking 02:01:35 and his closest contender Rwandan Giancarlo Rwanda had problems and eventually finished 4th overall but second in the ARC classifications in a time of 02:16:45.

15 cars started the Tanzania Rally with only 6 finishing the tough 253 km competitive mileage of the event which was held north of Dar in the Bagamoyo area.

KCB Safari rally

The Dalbit Petroleum team of Carl Tundo and his partner Tim Jessop won their fourth career KCB Safari Rally accolade. The duo was compelled to battle for the top honors and they accomplished the feat in bravado eclipsing a hard- charging 1994 WRC Safari winner Ian Duncan by a mere 15 seconds.

Giancarlo failed to finish the race after his vehicle got a mechanical falter with two rounds to go as Zambia's Essa widened his lead.

Uganda Pearl Rally

The Shell Pearl of Africa Uganda rally was lifted by Zambian Essa while Giancarlo Davite finished third behind Ugandan Jas Mangat. The 23-year-old was crowned the champion after completing the 644.89km event of which 371.75km was competitive in a total of 02:38:10.

Giancarlo finished in a time of 02:56:10.

Zambia rally

Giancarlo Davite took over the lead from Zambian Mohammed Essa on the drama packed last stage of day two of the 590km Puma Energy Zambia International Rally in Chisamba but retired on the final day with a broken driveshaft, putting back Essa in the lead.

Sasol rally

The second round of the FIA African Rally Championship, which ran in conjunction with the second round of the SA championship and was won by Cronje and Houghton from Habig and Paisley with Williams and Vrey third overall.

The leading visiting crew of Mohammed Essa of Zambia and Greg Stead of Zimbabwe (Subaru Impreza WRX) finished fourth ahead of fellow visitors Giancarlo Davite and Sylvia Vindevogel, also in a Subaru Impreza. Essa was 13th overall in the SA championship event, one place ahead of Davite.

Zimbabwe challenge rally

Jess and Sasha Watson from Zimbabwe made history when they became the first ever husband and wife team winners of an FIA African Rally Championship event when they drove their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10 over the finish ramp at the Cresta Lodge in Harare Zimbabwe.

Third and ARC title contenders Zambian Essa and Zimbabwean Greg Stead in a Subaru Impreza N10. Giancarlo alongside Sylvia Vindevogel finished fourth in a Subaru Impreza.

After eight rigorous rounds of the FIA Africa rally championship, Essa topped the standings with 114 points after only taking part in the six legs.

Giancarlo finished third with 55 points ahead of another Rwandan Elefterios Mitraros with 31 points.

Fitidis shocks Ugandans

Former champion Christakis Fitidis opted to compete the 2012 season in the Ugandan National rally championship. Fitidis put up flawless performance in a long Ugandan championship calendar to finish third behind second-placed Ronald Ssebuguzi and winner Jas Mangat.

With a more organised federation managed by Christian Gakwaya, local rally sport is to take new strides in the upcoming year.

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