The all-Kenyan crew of Don Smith and Bob Kaugi savoured clinching their maiden FIA African Rally Championship (ARC) title over the weekend as the Pearl of Uganda 2016 came to a dramatic end in Kampala.
Smith and Kaugi, who are also the 2012 Kenya National Rally Division Two champions, racked up the drivers and navigators championship titles after finishing seventh overall in the season-closing Ugandan round.
The Kenyan crew only needed to finish the crowd-pulling Pearl Rally but their celebrations began much earlier when Zambian Muna Singh Junior retired with a leaking fuel tank. They take over the continental glory from Jassi Chatthe of Kenya and Craig Thorlay of Britain who won it last year in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X.
With the ARC title proving elusive in 2016, the Zambian speed merchant (Muna) is taking it all in his stride. He said: “We went to Uganda just for the experience. Our main aim was to finish and gain as much experience as we could. Don Smith was too far ahead of us.”
He added: “That would have been the cherry on the cake for us, but there is always a next time.” “The strategy has been maintaining podiums on the continental front. Uganda just needed a finish and we approached it with a levelheaded mind,” said Smith.
Hassan Alwi Jnr of Uganda won the Ugandan tour outright followed by motocross rider and reigning Ugandan rally champion Arthur Blick Jnr. The Pearl success went down as Kenya’s fourth ever ARC drivers title victory as well as the country’s first ever feat by an indigenous African navigator.
Smith’s drive to the FIA ARC podium belied the excitement that was bubbling underneath but at exactly 3pm Ugandan time, this exploded into a solid stream of joy when he received his trophy for the finish.