Every sport world over virtually has its own unsung heroes, many of whom do the necessary grey behind the scenes hitherto tedious work before the entire project glitters like gold.
From the freezing to extreme scorching weather conditions, sport maneuvers its way to the final consumers with a lion’s share of work executed by the gallant sportsmen, coaches, referees and umpires, journalists as well as other support staff as ball-boys, line and corner judges, timers among others.
Motorsport has the transponder timers. These do a great deal of work especially in the motocross fraternity.
For starters, a transponder is that device that, upon receiving a signal, emits a different signal in response. The term is a portmanteau of transmitter and responder, often abbreviated as XPDR, XPNDR, TPDR or TP.
Uganda is privileged to have Paul Dronyi, a vastly experienced transponder timer.
In fact, Dronyi is the only certified transponder timer in the East and Central African region.
“I am glad to be a transponder timer. This is work that I have done for now a decade. I do it with passion” Dronyi notes.
A holder of a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology (I.T) from Kampala International University, Dronyi has further specific training from the United States of America (USA) and France.
“I was trained by Mylaps from USA in 2013 (online) as well as by Eternytime from France 2019 (online).
In motocross, transponders are activated by an active loop and use radio transmission with a decorder identification and time.
These emit detection to the decoder when activated by the loop.
Using software on a computer connected to the decoder.
Each transponder is assigned a name of the rider for easy identification.
Since 2013, Dronyi has been offering this diligent service.
“I started this business in 2013. Automated timing is so expensive. A full motocross transponder timing system costs not less than $15,000. It is therefore hard to invest in as an individual” he opens up.
The Uganda Motocross Club purchased the very first one in 2008 from Mylaps in the USA.
Since then, it is the system that has been in use for the whole of East and Central Africa since its only Uganda with automated timing in motocross.
“This system consists of Flex transponders that have lithium batteries and are charged in a box that can carry up to 34. When fully charged a flex transponder is fully functional for 4 days.” Dronyi adds.
Last year Uganda Motocross Club decided to upgrade to the latest technology in automated timing and therefore purchased the RFID transponder system from Chronelec in France.
This is new technology that uses electro-magnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects (bikes in particular).
Major events covered:
Virtually several motocross events that have happened in Uganda and the East African region have been catered for Dronyi.
From the 2013 this far, events as the East and Central Africa Motocross Championship, Uganda national motocross championships as well as the annual Armed Forces Appreciation Championship that started with the 2019 edition, all have been sorted.
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Every placement in life comes with a golden coating also brings forth juicy opportunities and blessings.
For Dronyi, transponder timing and motocross in general has provided him with that enviable bridge to link with influential people in East and Africa, serve his country as well as a chance to traverse various countries.
Motocross being a sport for the rich, it has connected me to many influential people in East Africa and Africa at large which has broadened my understanding of life and business opportunities. I have also got the opportunity to serve my country by making sure the right documentations are in place for Uganda Motocross Team whenever we travel for International Championships and opened the doors for me to travel to many countries.Paul Dronyi, Transponder Timer
There are several challenges as noted by Dronyi in the line of duty. These range from harsh weather conditions (hot and rainy conditions) to the work tasks.
“One challenge in automated timing concerns preparations. It takes a lot of work to have the set up done before the race. Then arises the harsh weather. When it rains, there is a lot of mud and very hot weather comes with a lot of dust.” Dronyi speaks out.
Also, riders tend to forget and move back to the respective home wit the transponders after race days especially when we use the flex transponders.
Perhaps, as mitigation, new RF sticker transponders are being introduced.
The can be taken and reused until they wear out without the need of charging them.
Uganda vs Kenya vis-à-vis the rest on the continent
For a long time now, the rivalry between Uganda and Kenya on the motocross front is manifested as cat-rat scenario.
This is one topic that Dronyi loves to share aloud, albeit with passion.
“Whereas Kenya has dominated East Africa, however for the past 5 years Uganda has been winning the East and Central Africa Championship pitting them on top of the region now. In 2012 Uganda were the African Champions after winning the championship in Busika, however the performance on African continent was not good until 2016 when Uganda came 3rd in Kenya, 4th in Zambia 2018 and recently 3rd in Zimbabwe 2019. This makes Uganda 3rd in Africa being South Africa in first position and Zimbabwe in second. After Uganda, in third position follows Zambia, Botswana, Kenya, Morocco, Namibia and others.” He adds.
Uganda has also on 3 occasions had African Champions; Aviv Orland (2016 85cc African Champion), Stav Orland (2018 85cc African Champion) and Alon Orland (2019 65cc current African Champion).
Appreciation to the Orland family:
Dronyi sings praise of the famous Orland family that introduced him to motosport, a great opportunity that he took on with courage and has never looked back.
“The Orland family brought me into the sport by training me on the automated system. The three Orland are crucial to the sport as well as the legendary motorsport veteran Barak Orland and Evas Orland. These boys have taken the Ugandan flag far by racing in the United States of America (USA) and South Africa Championships which has turned them into the first Ugandan professional riders.” He mentions.
Dronyi mentions other famous families that have raised motocross in Uganda as that of the team Captain Van Pee family, Omar Family, Blick Family, Semakula family, Kateete family, Mwangala family, Bukenya family, Sentamu Family, Obote family, Ntale family, Mbabazi family, Kiggundu family and many others.
During domestic competitions, each rider is charged 15,000/= and $20 for international Championships.
To ensure continuity, Dronyi has already undertaken the courageous task of training more transponder timers.
Among those being trained include Geoffrey Odong, Isaac Mwesigwa, Alex Apedo and Nelli Kigere.
Way Ahead & Humble Appeal:
Dronyi eyes the opportunity of handling big international events as the MTN Kampala Marathon as well as the Airtel Kabaka Birthday run.
“My dream is to take on big races like MTN marathon and Kabaka Airtel run because the same system can be used. Instead of companies like MTN fly in timers and the extra expense they incur on flights, accommodation. It would make sense to contract someone local like me. Besides, it is a win-win situation for both parties” he humbly appeals.
Transponders are used in motorsport for lap timing purposes.
A cable loop is dug into the race circuit near to the start/finish line. Each car or bike has an active transponder with a unique ID code.
When the racing car or bike passes the start/finish line the lap time and the racing position is shown on the score board.
Passive and active RFID systems are used in off-road events such as Enduro and Hare and Hounds racing, the riders have a transponder on their person, normally on their arm.
When they complete a lap they swipe or touch the receiver which is connected to a computer and log their lap time.
NASCAR uses transponders and cable loops placed at numerous points around the track to determine the lineup during a caution period.
This system replaced a dangerous race back to the start-finish line.