Jas Mangat got the Mbarara Rally monkey off his back by winning the season opener in western Uganda after several attempts.
Navigated by Joseph Kamya, Mangat took the rally lead from the start on Saturday to the end of the event.
The PiliPili rally team was quickest in the 194.10kilometres rally posting 1hr 47mins and 42seconds.
“We came into the rally with different approach. We had a more settled mind and very conscious. We had to go back to the basics,” said Mangat.
“We enjoyed day one more because we started car number six. By the time it was our time to go the roads were cleared.
“But day two had so many problems. Being first on the road we found ourselves being blocked in the stage. But we are glad we won,” he added.
Mangat last won in the west in 2012. He eventually dropped in the consectutive years after.
Mangat and Kamya now go top on the 2018 NRC leaderboard with 100points.
Reigning NRC champion Christakis Fitidis came in second overall six minutes, 37seconds behind Mangat.
“My target this year will always be a top five finish. It was the same target this weekend. Having a second podium finish gets even much better,” said Fitidis.
Susan Muwonge made her return eventful with a podium finish, sealing third place overall.
Unissan Bakunda showed that he is improving with each event. He settled for forth overall.
Ashraf Ahmed took fifth position with Kepher Walubi in sixth overall followed by Godfrey Aine Sodo.
Only nineteen crews finished the rally of the thirty-one that started.
Notable casualties include Ponsiano Lwakataka, Omar Mayanja and Ronald Sebuguzi who both suffered mechanical problems. Hassan Alwi rolled out of the event in the first stage.
Adam Rauf Essa despite pulling off a sublime performance fromt the start had his hopes dashed when he hit a stump in the final stage.
The second round of NRC is scheduled for 2-4 March in Jinja.
2018 Mbarara Rally top ten finishers
1. Jas Mangat/Joseph Kamya 1:47:42
2. Christakis Fitidis/Eric Nzamwita 1:54:19
3. Susan Muwonge/Edmon Kyeyune 1:54:19
4. Unnisan Bakunda/ Umar Kakande 2:01:56
5. Dr Ashraf/Edward Kiyingi 2:03:27
6. Umar Dauda/ Muhammad Sebbina 2:03:31
7. Kepher Walubi/Anthony Mugambwa 2:03:39
8. Aine Soedo/Derrick Lubambula 2:08:37
9. Samuel Bwete/Urban Mulindwa 2:10:43
10. Peter Kalule/Mariam Nambasa 2:17:13