Credit: Frank Omeno

As crews await the SMC Challenge Rally verdict this week, questions continue to linger around the organisation of the weekend rally. 

The SMC Challenge Rally was the first competitive rally since suspension of motor rally early last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The event provided some thrilling moments. It however had a deflating anticlimax when the rally organisers postponed the announcement of results.

The decision to postpone announcing the results was due to the absence of data from a controlled speed zone.

Crews were supposed to drive under 35kph within a zoned area in two stages. Any infringement would result in a time penalty.

The decision has now put the event organisers on the spot.

“As the Clerk of Course, I have all the right to hold results for as long as there is a situation that will not enable me to provide fair results,” said Jared Kalera, who was the event Clerk of Course (CoC).

“We had to follow the regulations of the event. And if there are infringements, the specific crews have to be penalised according to the book,” he added.

Provisional results had Duncan ‘Kikankane’ Mubiru ahead of Jas Mangat by 24 seconds. Hassan Alwi was in third place.

However, some crews believe they would not be in this situation if organisers had played their part.

“Before the event, we engaged the CoC, questioning him on how best he will manage the speed zones. He would have known better how challenging that would be,” said Musa Nsubuga, Mubiru’s co-driver.

“That system has failed in more organised events across the border. We had our doubts about how it will be run.

“There were no flags in the first stage. We also advised the organiser to calibrate our speedometers with the trackers, something they did not do. It is all their fault that we are going through this,” he added.

There were also claims of crews switching off their trackers during the event.

While it is a matter under investigation, some competitors have dismissed the claims.

“As a crew, you do not expect me to do the work of the officials. It is the work of the officials to ensure each crew has its tracker on.

“You cannot fault any crew when their tracker was off for several stages. And that is a safety issue. What is the tracking department doing for us?” an incensed Abdul Kateete said when he spoke to Kawowo Sport.

Kateete ended the rally in fourth place.

Despite the rally debacle, there is optimism that incidents like these can be prevented.

Joseph Kamya, co-driver to Jas Mangat says clubs may need to be more prepared ahead of rallies.

“Looking forward, organisers must apply systems that are well tested and proved to avoid other incidents like this.

“I believe the organisers will take their time and give the right decision to this event,” he said.

The Stewards meeting is expected to sit on Tuesday to announce the final results.

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