Local drivers with GC8 cars, which include Subaru N4s and Mitsubishi Evos 4-7, should sigh with relief after it was confirmed that they wouldn't face a 20 per cent penalty.
The news is a big morale booster as drivers prepare for the opening round of the National Rally Championship (NRC) round in Mbarara next month. This follows a decision by world motorsport body, FIA, to lift the ban on GC8 rally cars (manufactured in 2000 and before) until 2016. Last year, several local Subaru 'N' drivers had their points docked by 20 per cent after every event when the Federation of Motorsport Clubs of Uganda (FMU) enforced the FIA regulation.
A majority of Ugandan Subaru drivers, including Jonas Kansiime, Edison Munghereza, Peter Kalule, Robert Kasana and Abdul Katende, competed in cars in this category. Mitsubishi drivers: Duncan 'Kikankane' Mubiru and Wycliff Bukenya, whose cars included the Evo 5 and 7 respectively, will also benefit from the FIA grace period.
Geoffrey Nsamba, who drives a Fiat Ibiza, is one other beneficiary. "This move will save the sport, especially in the poor countries because the number of drivers competing in rallies was reducing. Because of the penalties, some drivers didn't think racing was worth because one could be penalised almost an hour and would have no chance to win a race."
In addition, Ronald Serugo, spokesman for the local drivers association, URDA, lauded FIA on the move.
"This is welcome news and a big relief to many drivers," Serugo said on January 6 during the URDA-organised seminar at Esella country hotel in Najjeera.
However, many drivers had upgraded their machines after FMU evoked the stringent rule last season. Former NRC champion Nasser Mutebi, for instance, scaled up from his all-conquering 2010 Subaru N4 to N10. Meanwhile, drivers have unanimously agreed that the pre-event scrutinising of cars will be done once and a day before rally flag-off of any rally this season.
In the past, top drivers had their cars examined on rally flag-off or even skipped the mandatory exercise, leading to complaints among the competitors. FMU is due to adopt and include the amendments into their competition books before the 2013 NRC series flag off early February in Mbarara.