After almost a month’s lull since the conclusion of the ARC Equator Rally,  the FIA Rally Star quartet of Maxine Wahome, Jeremy Wahome, McRae Kimathi and Hamza Anwar can’t wait to  debut the continent’s biggest racing crowd puller -the Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally.
The Kampala-based event will be a journey into the unknown for the four youngsters who really don’t know what to expect apart from the big crowds that are traditionally associated with the FMU (Federation of Motorsport Clubs of Uganda) organized event.
McRae Kimathi, who is Kenya’s contender for the FIA Junior WRC and  FIA WRC 3, will pilot the M-Sport Poland Ford Fiesta Rally 3 car which is three steps below the World Rally  hybrid car (Rally 1).
FIA Rally Star Hamza Anwar repairs his rally car during a past event
Jeremy Wahome will drive the other Rally 3 Fiesta hoping to replicate his ARC Equator Rally form where he finished fourth.  During Equator, Jeremy checked out early out of Naivasha’s Service In and the mistake cost him a career best second position.
Maxine, who is the leading lady driver in Kenya at the present, will make her first appearance in the Premier Uganda fixture behind the wheel of a Subaru Impreza while Hamza will drive a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X.
Hamza is anticipated to return to the bucket seat of his Rally 3 Ford Fiesta just before WRC Safari Rally Kenya if all goes well. He rolled his Rally 3 machine on ARC Rally of Tanzania 2021 during Qualifying and the car has had to undergo a strip rebuild in Nairobi to repair the damage.
McRae said: “I don’t know so much about the stages in Uganda – I have no clue what they will look like because it will be my first time there, but I will surely strategise accordingly with my navigator (Mwangi Kioni) after recce and, of course, try not to disappoint my huge fan base there. We just hope we can go there and try to give the local boys a run for their money.”
Jeremy, a product of the Kenya National Karting Championship as well as Formula 4 and 3 in Europe and Asia, said on his part: “The essence is to carry on the momentum from Equator Rally and perform well. Whenever a rally is new, it’s always a tricky affair. I’m sure it’s going to be a challenge,because of the the huge turnout of fans on the roads but it’s one event I’m looking forward to.”
FIA Rally Star Hamza Anwar repairs his rally car during a past event
Hamza was all smiles and here’s what he had to say: “I know the Pearl is a great platform for any aspiring young driver, so I’m looking forward to seeing it. The FIA Rally Star program definitely  given us the opportunity to experience diverse conditions across Africa and improve on our driving capability. Uganda has always been my favorite.”
“I attended the event  in 2007 when I was a kid to cheer on my dad (Asad Anwar). Dad’s still speaks highly of the event and the crazy fans. So we are looking forward to the craziness,” said Hamza who rejoined this year’s Equator Rally on the Super Rally rule and won the penultimate stage at Kedong last month.
He has since done a strip rebuild on his Evo X and pronounced himself ready for action this week.
The FIA Rally Star program aims to find the next FIA World Rally champion by making the sport more accessible than ever before to budding drivers between the ages of 17 and 26.
The Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally will count towards the third round of the FIA African Rally Championship (ARC) from May 6-8 in the districts of Mukono and Bukwe.
A total of 49 drivers will partake the event which has attracted 10 foreigners including Kenya’s leader Karan Patel, physically challenged driver Nikhil Sachania, ARC leader Leroy Gomes of Zambia and Rwandese speedster Giancarlo Davite.
FIA Rally drivers, from left McRae Kimathi, Hamza Anwar, Jeremy Wahome and WRC Safari Rally Kenya CEO Phineas Kimathi pose for a photo in preparation for a past rally.
The 39 local drivers include three times Uganda Champion Ronald Ssebuguzi aka Seb, former Pearl winners Hassan Alwi and Ponsiano Lwakataka aka Mafu Mafu, Dr Ahmed Ashraf and Yasin Nasser of MOIL Rally Team.
The Pearl is the third event this year in the continental series after Rallye Bandama of Ivory Coast and Kenya’s Equator Rally.
Shakedown and Qualifying will kick-start the event program on Friday in Namataba followed by action proper on Saturday and Sunday.
FIA AFRICAN RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS AFTER EQUATOR RALLY
1. Leroy Gomes (Zambia)54 pts
2. Karan Patel (Kenya) 30 pts
3. Jasmeet Chana (Kenya) 21
4. Jeremy Wahome (Kenya) 19
5. Gaincarlo Davite (Rwanda) 17
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