Yasin Nasser Credit: John Batanudde

The Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally may not be held this year.

The Ugandan round of the African Rally series was slated for 14-16 August.

World Motorsport governing body the FIA has also indicated via their website that the event will not be held this year.

 The local governing body FMU is, however, yet to make it official. 

“For quite some time we have been contemplating on the future of Pearl Rally, to either postpone or cancel the event for the season. But all options direct towards cancelling,” says Jeff Kabagambe, Deputy Vice president in charge of motor rallying.  

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has ravaged most countries, has affected preparations of the event.

And recently, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni insisted all sporting activities will be on hold at least until the pandemic managed.

“The country is currently on lockdown. We are not certain when it will be lifted. This has kept us behind schedule as we are supposed to submit the documents on time,” adds Kabagambe.

The Rwanda and Zambia rallies were all postponed to later dates in the year. 

Drew Sturrock and Manvir Baryan pop Champagne after last year’s Pearl Rally win. The Crew hass won the last three editions. Credit: John Batanudde

Postponement did not seem an option for Uganda.

“Pearl being a regional event, it needs a lot of commitment and time to strengthen all arms that make up the event. 

“Besides, all the possible dates were hinted on by other events. 

“Staying in suspense can not help us. What if we postpone and the government restriction on public events remain in play for a longer time than we anticipate?” questions Kabagambe.

Financial constraint is another factor backing up Pearl Rally cancellation. 

“Several sectors world over are financially hit by COVID-19. As the federation, were are not exceptional. We foresighted a big problem in securing sponsors for the event. 

“We believe even the competitors will be equally financially affected exhausting their abilities to participate,” added Kabagambe. 

Pearl Rally’s cancellation leaves the  African Rally series with only five events to make up the championship. South Africa had earlier withdrawn from this year’s championship.

Only Rally Bandama in Ivory Coast had taken place.

Pearl Rally will not only affect the ARC but also the National Rally Championship; leaving the season with six events.

It will also be the first for Pearl Rally not to be held since 2002. 

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