Motosport. Only Grace Lubega and Roger Kiggundu were declared finshers of the Kabalega Rally held in July. Jas Mangat had initially been declared winner, a decision that has since been reversed
Up to 19 drivers, among them two-time national champion Jas Mangat, were disqualified from July’s controversial Kabalega Rally following a ruling by the supreme motorsport body, the Federation of Motorsport Clubs of Uganda (FMU), through their Senate.
The episode, lasting over 100 days, ended with the crew of Godfrey Lubega and Justin Mungoma being declared winners of the Umospoc-organised event held in Hoima and Masindi at a media briefing yesterday.
A delighted Lubega, one of only two crews to finish the race, the other being Rogers Kiggundu, on learning that he won his maiden rally, said: “Finally justice has been done.”
“Motorsport has won, and this is a lesson to all of us to follow the rules in future,” Mungoma added. Mangat had initially been declared winner, a decision that has since been reversed.
He must now win this weekend’s National Rally Championship (NRC) season finale in Jinja, organised by Mosac, to take his title count to three.
Hassan Alwi Jnr leads the NRC standings on 394 points, 94 more than Mangat. The two are the only ones able to win this year’s title.
The former cannot score points here as he forfeited earlier in the season to race in Rwanda. The decision, announced the Lugogo Tennis Club, buries the ghosts of Kabalega.
It arose from Lubega’s petition after FMU had resolved to fine the erring drivers Shs500, 000 each in a decision reached by a three-man Court of Appeal of Oscar Kihika, Geoffrey Kihuguru and Fred Obbo.
This was overturned by the Senate comprising of five people led by McDusman Kabega as chairman.
Past FMU presidents David Bitalo, George Kagimu and Jack Wavamunno, plus John Prinsloo completed the five-man panel.
“After going through the evidence, it was found that only crew of cars No.2, 10 and 33 accepted to continue the event after assurance by clerk of the course and Safety delegate that it was safe to go on with the event,” their statement reads in part. “The rest of the crew did so after the intervention of FMU president.”
Those cars are driven by Ronald Ssebuguzi, Lubega and Kiggundu respectively. The rest were consequently time-barred under the FMU 2016 national competition rules.
“Any late arrival, at the start of the rally of a day section shall be penalised by 10 secs for every minute or a fraction of a minute. Any crew reporting more than 15 minutes late shall not be allowed to start,” section 16.3 reads.
In Masindi, drivers rebelled only for the intervention of the FMU vice president technical Kisitu Mayanja, who was chairman of stewards, to prevent a total boycott as fans fought with event managers at Boma grounds, the venue for the Super Special Stage.
An unidentified security operative fired shots in the air to calm the rowdy fans. Drivers agitated for the abortion of the stage, saying it was unsafe.
Several petitions rolled in until FMU boss Dusman Okee convinced drivers to accept that two stages were aborted on safety grounds to save time.
The event clerk of course Charles Ssemengo didn’t sign the results’ form as should be in practice and the traditional awards’ ceremony as is the culture in all motorsport wasn’t held.
This weekend will feel like a cleansing for FMU after a troublesome season.
KABALEGA RALLY RESULTS
Grace Lubega 01:11:46
Roger Kiggundu 01:39:01
CURRENT NRC STANDINGS
Hassan Alwi 394 pts
Jas Mangat 300
Arthur Blick 234
Ronald Ssebuguzi 215