Rajiv Ruparelia stormed to his maiden National Rally Championship victory with a commanding display at the Kabalega Rally in Hoima on Saturday.
Rajiv took control of the penultimate NRC round with six competitive stage victories from the seven stages run through the one-day rally to secure victory by 45 seconds.
With second place taken by Mubiru Duncan ‘Kikankane’ in a Subaru Impreza GVB, it means that the fight for the championship goes to the final round decider in Jinja next month (November 26-28).
Kikankane headed Ronald Ssebuguzi’s Mitsubishi Evo X by 1:20sec, Omar Mayanja by 2:39secs, and championship rival Hassan Alwi’s Subaru Impreza N14 by a further 7:52secs.
A maximum of 100 points remain available for the championship hopefuls with 90 points between championship leader Kikankane and fourth placed Mayanja.
Kikankane holds 70-point lead ahead of Alwi (280 points) in second place. Fred Busuulwa – who finished sixth in Hoima – is third with 270 points. Mayanja caps the top four on 260 points.
Rajiv took the rally lead from the onset, covering the 26-kilometre Kingozi stage in 17:40secs, nine seconds ahead of Kikankane.
He then took a commanding lead of the rally going a minute faster than the rest of the field in the second stage of the day.
But it was not smooth sailing for Rajiv who then suffered mechanical problems at the start of the third section, relinquishing the lead after losing 2:37secs to Kikankane.
The RR Racing team crew then massively cut their 1:28secs deficit by 50 seconds at the end of the second pass through the 26 KM World Wide Movers test. Kikankane’s lead was further reduced to 10 seconds by the end of the second pass through Bugambe Tea and second loop of the rally.
After demoting Kikankane from the lead in the afternoon, Rajiv progressed with a serene drive in the final loop of the rally taking stage wins through third passes through World Wide Movers and Bugambe Tea.
NRC provisional standings:
Duncan Mubiru 350
Hassan Alwi 280
Fred Busuulwa 270
Omar Mayanja 260