Three — time National Rally Champion (NRC) Ronald Ssebuguzi and navigator Anthony Mugambwa lead five Ugandan crews' aspirations as the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) makes a return to the African continent at the legendary Safari Rally Kenya.
The WRC return is monumental as it will be on African soil for the first time in nearly 20 years with Round Six of the 2021 season taking place this weekend from June 24-27 at the famed terrains of Naivasha and its suburbs.
The five crews including; Kepher Walubi/Siraje Kyambadde, Hassan Alwi/James Mwangi, Duncan 'Kikankane' Mubiru/Umar Mayanja and Yasin Nasser/Ali Katumba have competed at the Safari Rally event before but that was when it was still an African Rally Championship (ARC) event.
And with it making a Second Coming - the first since 2002 - as a WRC event, the Ugandan crews are itching for a slice of history at the prestigious global event.
"This is a chance for us to show our potential amongst the very best in the world," said Ssebuguzi, after receiving a Shs25m boost for the event from Vivo Energy officials Alvin Bamutire and Mark Mutungi on June 19.
"I look forward to representing my country at this prestigious motor-sporting event. I am grateful to Shell V-Power for the support that they have offered me through the years as a professional racer," Ssebuguzi said.
"I have, for the past 10 years, used Shell V Power which has a high-octane level that maximises the performance of my car making it a road warrior."
Ssebuguzi and his colleagues will not compete for WRC points but will have their fair share of thrills in a special African category with a lot of pride at stake.
This event will see the Safari Rally of old evolve into a modern-day WRC event. But its character shall remain intact with challenging closed dirt roads, stunning picture-postcard scenery and exotic wildlife.
The Ugandan competitors, who are already in Kenya for acclimatisation and recceing, can expect rocky and rutted tracks, and unpredictable weather which could transform dry and dusty trails into glutinous mud-baths.
Uganda's crew at the Safari Rally
Yasin Nasser & Ali Katumba
Ronald Ssebuguzi & Anthony Mugambwa
Duncan Mubiru & Umar Mayanja
Hassan Alwi & James Mwangi
Kepher Walubi & Siraje Kyambadde