The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: Competitive Rally Season On the Cards

Apart from the new monster machines, the 2013 season will pity the old guards against a crop of young fierce competitors in the battle for the NRC title.

Pundits predict that a new NRC champion, like has happened in the past three years, will emerge at the end of this season. From Nasser Mutebi in 2010, Susan 'Super Lady' Muwonge (2011) to 2012 king, Jas Mangat, chances are high the trend could reverse this year. New drivers to watch include Duncan Mubiru 'Kikankane', John Consta and Jonas Kansiime, who all starred in the 2012 season.

Star attractions:

Kikankane, widely tipped as the hot challengers to Jas Mangat, leads the pack of drivers who have acquired new machines ahead of the new season. He has added a Subaru N12 to his fleet that includes a Subaru N14 and Mitsubishis Evo.4 and 8. Old guards are not sitting back either. A host of them, including Ponsiano Lwakataka, Wycliff Bukenya, Godfrey Lubega, Peter Kakaire and Dr Ahmed Ashraf have bought new cars in a bid to match the increased competition.

Lwakataka is shopping around for a Subaru N12 from N8; Bukenya has added Subaru N12 to his Evos 7 and 9 while Lubega and Kakaire acquired Subarus N12 and 10 respectively. Former champion Ronald Ssebuguzi hasn't switched cars but strongly believes his Evo9 is in perfect condition to deliver the third championship triumph for him. Having finished runner-up to Mangat in the same car, Ssebuguzi insists that all he needs is consistency and not a new machine

Decisive races:

Mbarara Rally, the season opener is a highly-billed calendar event for two reasons; first, drivers get to test their new machines and secondly, it has become sort of a trend that whoever wins this rally goes on to claim the NRC title. Pearl of Africa Rally; the prestigious competition provides chance for Ugandan drivers to take on the continent's best, and no one (both drivers and local fans) would like to see a repeat of last year when Mohammed Essa schooled our big boys.

That's one of the factors that raise the stakes in the event slated for May/June. And being the last NRC series, the Independence Rally in October comes across as a high-profile event given the significance of crowning the season and champion.

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