After third place finish in last year’s edition, Burundian crew of Valerie Bukera and Nital Khetia were third time lucky at the end of this year’s mountain Gorilla rally as they clinched their maiden championship on a thrilling end to the rally championship.
It was a battle of two Burundian drivers going into the final day with country mate Rudy Cantanhede relinquishing his day one lead by falling 36 seconds behind going into the final three rounds of the championship.
“We knew it would not be easy but we were confident with the terrain and our speed going into the final day, we stuck to our plan,” Vaalerie who was driving an updated Subaru Impreza said.
But the experienced Cantanhede who was victorious in last year’s Huye rally and four times winner of the rally wasn’t to be ruled out quickly as he reclaimed the lead with two stages to go but great luck on the side of Bukera and an unfortunate crash for Cantanhede ended his day as he crashed in cross section 9.
Africa rally championship leaders Muna Singh Junior navigated by sister Jasmeen Singh finished second to maintain their lead at the top of the Africa Rally championship,“The terrain is quite different but our experience from last year, enabled us to avoid potential mechanical hazards, I’m pleased with our performance,” he said.
Rwanda’s best performers on the day were debutants Jean Claude Gakwaya competing in his first mountain gorilla rally finishing in fourth place one spot ahead of brother Eric Gakwaya in fifth.
“It was a disappointing performance not to finish in the podium positions, nevertheless a great lesson for our inexperienced team,” Jean Claude who was driving a Subaru Impreza 2WD stated.
It was a disappointing end to the rally for the Ugandan cogent who initially boosted of the highest number of foreign entrants as their best placed driver Abdou Sempebwa could only manage an eleventh place finish though it was good enough for forth in the overall standings.
Despite missing in the ongoing military game in Kigali, Burundians showed they are still doing well in car sporting.
They have registered 5 victories since the launch of Rwanda Mountain Gorilla rally; Cantanhede won four of them.
According to the Scoreboard
- Bukera Valery and Nital Khetia (Burundi) : Subaru Impreza – 01:48:01
- Muna Singh and Jasmeen Singh (Zambia) : Subaru Impreza – 01:49:06
- Hassan Alwi and Musa Nsubuga (Uganda) : Subaru Impreza – 01:54:43
- Gakwaya Jean Claude and Mugabo Jean Claude (Rwanda) : Subaru Impreza –
- Roshanali Mohamed and Habimana Youssouf (Burundi) : Subaru Impreza – 02:01:53
- Sultan Kalula and Fahad Massoud (Burundi) : Subaru Impreza – 02:04:31
- Smith Don and Kaugi Bob (Kenya) : Subaru Impreza- 02:05:10