Two-time Uganda National Rally Champion Ponsiano Lwakataka captured victory at the Lake Mburo – Rukaari rally on Sunday, claiming his fourth win in Mbarara.
Lwakataka and co-driver Paul Musaazi prevailed in a drama filled season opener, powering his Subaru Impreza N12b to cover the eight stages in 1:32 minutes, seven minutes ahead of Fred Kitaka who finished second.
The rally provided a titanic battle with Ronald Ssebuguzi, Arthur Blick and champion Duncan Mubiru sharing victories in the opening three stages, but failed to reach the final stage.
The 2022 season provided a fresh lease of life in the championship as the Federation of Motorsports Clubs of Uganda (FMU) introduced classes to improve the competition on the grid, but disorganisation and a breakdown in communication cast a dark shadow on the event.
The Mbarara rally was briefly stopped on Thursday evening by FMU after the organisers failed to meet certain requirements especially the Speed-lift Instrument.
However, FMU later withdrew their decision after Mbarara Motor Club (MMC) managed to secure the instrument on Friday morning.
Saturday would provide the first running. Anticipation was high as Kikankane set onto the opening 10KM stage through Kakoba.
The reigning champions was fastest through the stage, six seconds ahead of Blick – who was rallying alongside his son Alistair Blick in the co-driver’s seat.
Alistair, did not have to wait long to have his first stage win on his rallying debut matching his father’s pace to reach the end of the 15KM Sanga stage a second ahead of Kikankane.
However, the two runs through the 3.4KM spectator stage at Rukaari Resort spelt the first bit of frustration for the champion, dropping at least five minutes per run to the winners of the stage; Ssebuguzi and Samuel Bweete.
Kikankane eventually dropped out of the rally after rolling his Subaru Impreza GVB early on day two, while the father-son crew who held the overnight lead also dropped out due to mechanical problems.
As his rivals struggled, Lwakataka kicked into beast mode on Sunday, winning all four of the day’s stages, taking the rally lead on stage five and leaving the rest of the field in his wake.
Lwakataka beat his closest rival Ssebuguzi, who would later also drop out after stage five, by a minute.
With the lead firmly in his grasp, Ponsiano cruised through stage six, beating Mark Lubega and Daniel Mbabazi by 1:34 seconds, extending that by 52 seconds on the penultimate stage and then sealing victory with another 1:12 seconds gap to Lubega – son to rally legend Charlie Lubega.
Fed Busuulwa Kitaka and Joseph Bongole finished second with Aine Sodo and Derrick Lubambula completing the podium places.
Edward Kirumira and Robert Katabalwa won the 2WD category, finishing fourth with the crew of Lubega and Mbabazi topping the top five after a dauntless drive despite failing to finish the opening day and receiving a 20-minute penalty.
Mbarara Rally 2022 Top five
Pontian Lwakataka/ Paul Musaazi – 1:32:33
Fred Busuulwa/ Joseph Bongole – 1:40:11
Aine Sodo/Derrick Lubambula – 1:43:48
Edward Kirumira/Robert Katabalwa – 1:51:20
Mark Lubega/Mbabazi Daniel: 1:56:40