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Ugandan Enduro Rider Living His Dream in South Africa

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Oscar Pascal Massango is a Ugandan born enduro rider plying his trade in South Africa where he has spent several years. The rider who rides a 2020 model Husqvarna enduro bike coached by Neil Van Der Ross is making a name for himself in South Africa, although he is not widely known back home in Uganda. Hapasports’ Robert Nkolo recently caught up with him and asked him a few questions. Below are excerpts of the wide-ranging interview;

Hapasport: Can you please walk through your motorcycling journey, how you picked up interest? Got involved and started racing?

  • Oscar: I got very interested in motorcycles as a young boy growing up in Masaka Uganda. I used to go and watch motorcycle races whenever they came around town, sometimes I had no money to pay the entry fees so I and my friends climbed trees and anthills to get a glimpse of the riders.
    So around 2005, an old friend of mine called DJ Samli used to hang around a motorcycle club owned by one JB and he used to take me along and that’s when I started getting closer. One day there was supposed to a race on Mbarara road but the riders from Kampala never showed up and I got my opportunity to ride that day. I did not even know how to properly change gears but I rode anyway and even though I was removed after two rounds, it was the best experience of my life and it stayed with me ever since.
    Even after I relocated to South Africa I was still into motorcycles and would constantly discuss motorcycles, go to watch races and even remember going to watch the Ugandan national team when they came to SA. After a while I bought an 85cc Suzuki Off Road bike and started riding it for fun. One day a spectator approached me and asked me if I was interested in joining a team and doing this professionally.
    That gentleman introduced me to Nic Goslar the managing director of Men’s Clinic International – who had a riding team. This is how I joined this team and after extensive training and hard work I am now a valued member of this team.
courtesy Photo

Hapasport: So how has the going been since you joined the team?

  • Oscar: When I joined the team, I was just riding for fun and now I am part of a competition team. I had to start learning everything about enduro and training very hard. It took me seven months of training before I was even able to take part in my first competitive race. I started in the bottom classes which even included women and I finished last in my first race. I was very disappointed in my performance but my manager, my coach, and my teammates were very encouraging and told me not to give up and that I will get better.
    I continued to train, race, train, and race some more. Eventually, I made my way up the ranks and I am now in the E2 classes – which is for the most skilled riders. I have not yet won this class because the competition is incredibly tough but I am competing favorably against the best and getting podium finishes.

Hapasport: Do you have any plans to come race in Uganda?

  • Oscar: My roots are in Uganda and I will definitely be coming. I was already planning to do something in Uganda this year but due to the global pandemic, those plans are on hold and we shall see what is possible after the situation gets better.

Hapasport: Any last words/words of advice/acknowledgements?

  • Oscar: Any aspiring rider needs to be flexible and take what opportunities they get. My dream was to be an MX rider but my opportunities took me on a different path that is equally rewarding. I still train in MX as well and If the need arises I could easily cross over.
    I would like to thank my team, my sponsors, fans, friends and well-wishers. Thank you for the opportunities.
    Special thanks to Nic Goslar, Neil van der Ross, Men’s Clinic International, Motorsport South Africa, TrickBitzCC, ArietOfficial, Bikers Warehouse, WaynFarmer, MikePuzy, Thormx.
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Bisanirizo Rally Team Ready Up for 2021 season

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The team of three crews is not resting at all, rather getting ready to fly come 2021. Comprising of Fred Ssenkumba “a 2WD champion”, Jackson Sserwanga, and Isaac Ssozi who is currently upgrading to a Subaru N8 STI, the team aims to fly higher than before.

Talking to the team long-serving co-driver Mwambazi Lawrence, these were his remarks
“We’re focusing on 2021 me and Isaac Ssozi, we have a new powerful car the Subaru N8 STI upgrading from the GC8 and hopefully it’s going to perform, Mwambazi told hapasport

“In BRT any of us can call notes to anyone who decides to drive and most people have been asking why am I crossing to Isaac, its because we’re one team. If Fred is not driving, he can call notes to Jackson and that’s how we do it”.

“If we get more events this year to finish the season I will still come back with Jackson in our Toyota Run x as the preparations for 2021 goes on and switch to the N8 with Isaac in 2021 and as you can see our service truck is here too”. “And soon Jackson will upgrade to a more powerful car switching from the current Run x though its new here and one of its kind”, added Mwambazi.

The BRT service van

Nasser Kirunda donates rally car to Uganda Co-driving Academy

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The rally and co-driver Nasser Kirunda, has boosted the racers spirits after donating his former Subaru GC8 rally car to Uganda Rally Co-drivers Academy.

The academy proprietor Musa Nsubuga received the car from Nasser on Tuesday, and it was a give back to the academy where he started his career as a student in navigation classes before turning out to be a driver.

“I must say I was lucky to be among the first students in the Co drivers academy, to understand writing, calling and interpretation of the pace notes, thanks to Musa, Hussein, Cedric, Eddie Mukiibi, Musaazi, Umar Kakande, Suzan Kalema, Enock Olinga, Sam Mugisha, Leon, Joseph Kamya and any other senior co-driver that offer free lessons and your selflessness in the academy, said Kirunda.

“With that background, and the fact that there are so many fans out there that wanna join the sport, I decided to gift the gc8 to the academy to facilitate the lessons.
That’s my small contribution to the sport ensure more professional competitors,” added Kirunda.

“Piggy Piggy [the previously used car] was becoming so unreliable and Mr Nasser Kirunda decided to donate to the Academy a car for practicals and Yassin Nasser picked it, thanks to both of them, said Musa Nsubuga.

The academy is run by longtime co-driver Musa Nsubuga given a hand by other senior co-drivers, and lessons are free of charge.

 

Uganda to get another multi-motorsports arena

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Uganda to get another multi-motorsports arena

Hapasport understands there’s a new project of constructing a multi-motorsports arena kicking off soon, and before 2020 collapses the facility will be ready for use.

The project is spearheaded by one Amos Wekesa who is a rider parent and also a major stakeholder in the sport.
Mr. Amos Wekesa is the father to MX riders known as Kylan Wekesa who competes in Mx125 category and Zion in Mx50 category.

George ssemakula also a rally navigator and rider parent detailed further that,… “Arthur Blick jr is already designing the sketches, I will chip in to advise before final taking for approval.

L-R Amos, Ssemakula and Blick Jr at the gazetted site laying the plan.

“If Amos is impressed with the designs, then costing will follow. Once practical work start, we pray it takes a week to have tracks in place. Then we shall gradually improve while it’s in use, and the target is to have it ready for at least 1 National Mx event before 2021,  Ssemakula added.

The facility will have Multi motorsports discipline tracks from MX to racing cars. The arena is located in kasanje and can be accessed by turning off Entebbe Road from Sseguku opposite fresh cuts, or turning off Masaka Road from Nateete traffic lights junction as one is coming from capital Kampala.

 

Sebastian Loeb linked to Toyota Dakar Team and TGR WRC Switch

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French driver Sébastien Loeb, nine-times world rally champion, is rumored to compete in the 2021 Dakar behind the wheel of a Toyota, specifically with the Belgian Overdrive team, after trying out one of the brand’s buggies.

Loeb, the second in the Dakar in 2017, with Peugeot behind teammate Stéphane Peterhansel and the third in 2019 with the same team, is on final plans to return to the race next January in Saudi Arabia with a Toyota.

“A few weeks ago, Sébastien (Loeb) participated in a test session of one of our T3, these little buggies that made their appearance in the 2020 Dakar,” explained the head of Overdrive, the Belgian Jean-Marc Fortin, in statements to the Le Soir daily, implying that there will be a vacancy for the Frenchman.

Loeb was expected to compete in an event in the United Arab Emirates on one of those new machines built by Overdrive, but the event was postponed due to the Coronavirus Outbreak.

However According to Spanish AS magazine, Sebastian Loeb would replace Fernando Alonso , who is heading to other motorsport series, Rumor has it Alonso may return to formula one.

AS magazine rumors that an agreement with Toyota’s Dakar team could also allow Loeb drive the Toyota YarisWRC in the World Rally Championship.

Loeb’s current contract with Hyundai Motorsport expires at the end of this year.so he has a chance to return to Dakar next year.

Amid coronavirus fears, FMU Disputes Pearl Rally Cancellation mail

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Hapasport has landed on a mail from Olivier Steveny the FIA sporting coordinator indicating that the Pearl of Africa Uganda rally 2020 which was due on August 14 – 16 has been canceled.

The mail reads; “Dear all, I hope this mail finds you well and healthy.

We have the regrets to announce that, following information received from the host ASN, the above-mentioned event has been cancelled for 2020.

We would like to thank you for your commitment and work already done as officials and we will look together to collaborate again in the future following your availabilities.

“Hoping that this pandemic situation will come to an end and that every championship will be able to restart soon.

In the meantime, stay safe and take care of yourself and your loved ones. Best regards” signed by Olivier Steveny.

However, the FMU official Mr. Jeff Kabagambe [DVP Motorsport head], has downplayed the mail saying that the concerned parties and stakeholders have not yet come out with a conclusive decision about the event.

“We have to seat with all stakeholders, sponsors and all the concerned parties to make up a decision, as of now the event is still in pipeline” Mr Jeff told Hapasport.

Pearl rally is a prestigious event on the Uganda’s sporting calendar and counts as FIA African rally championship round. Keep it hapasport for more information!!

 

 

Will Ogier be crowned 2020 WRC champion if season is cancelled due to CoronaVirus ?

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Sebastien Ogier during the Toyota Yaris WRC test before Photo: Redbull content pool

Sebastian Ogier and team Toyota Gazoo racing were the Table leaders of the World Rally Championship WRC before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic – but will Ogier and Toyota still be crowned 2020 WRC champions if the campaign cannot be completed?

The FIA has not released any official information on the outcome of the World Rally Championship title should the season be cancelled.

Seven events continue with their preparations to complete the season, although Matton expects more cancellations. The FIA continues to evaluate the idea of compressed events, with higher mileage per stage to take on when the WRC returns this year. But the big question remains who knows when everything will return to normalcy?

In the midst of these uncertainties, Yves Matton the FIA rally director gave an interview to the French media AutoHebdo, in which he revealed possible deadlines for the 2020 WRC season.

The championship should restart between summer and September, but today I cannot say what the first test will be,” said the FIA Rally commission Matton. When asked about the possibility of extending the season until December, Matton said: “It is possible, since the FIA annual award ceremony has been postponed for a week to add events. For now, no organizer has requested a date in early December, but in a few days, they could change their minds. “

“The biggest problem we have right now is that we depend on the decisions of governments, which come regularly, but which are always subject to new changes,” said the Director FIA Rally commission Yve matton

With no surprises, the director of the FIA Rally Commission again put the focus of doubts on non-European rallies, as they generate the greatest costs and problems logistically. This situation especially affects Kenya, Argentina, and New Zealand, three countries whose aspirations are far from recognizing a cancellation, despite the adverse context of the economic crisis. In teams, a consensus prevails not to travel outside Europe. Despite this, each event continues with its preparations.

“What is certain is that we will not do all the rallies that have been postponed and there will probably be other cancellations,” admitted Yves Matton. “There are several problems for non-European events and it is difficult to assign new spaces to them because of logistical reasons. In fact, we have an inflexible deadline for transporting ocean cargo. So even if some events can change their dates, they will not have that much freedom.”

“This type of rally is subject to infrastructure restrictions that are not available throughout the year or that must cope with weather conditions to carry out their events without problems,” explained the Belgian.

“Also, there is a financial and budgetary aspect that is linked to its partners, its sponsors and the areas or regions that help them. The Covid-19 crisis will entail expenses that can have a direct influence on the organization of certain events. This could cause the cancellation of some dates in 2020, to be able to return in 2021 ”.

With the exception of Portugal, (the only rally canceled at the moment) Matton assured that no other organizer has expressed to the FIA an inability to hold an event for financial reasons. “Something like this has not happened. Only, some have told us that it will be difficult or impossible to plan two rallies in 7 months, between 2020 and 2021. Even if everyone tries to find solutions, it is complex to know what the events of the second part of the season will be ”.

“We must take into account how the closure of borders evolves, the availability of flights and the existence in certain countries of quarantine measures. If you leave Germany, when you return there, you will have to spend two weeks of isolation. So this creates a set of factors that complicate things for the organizers, manufactures and teams ” , explained the director of the Rally Commission.

When asked how the calendar for the second half of the season could be reformulated, Matton replied: “The idea is to keep the dates of those organizers who have not yet postponed their events, while postponed rallies should be reinserted when possible. or if other competitions cannot guarantee their presence on the calendar ”. Yves Matton was asked about the minimum number of events stipulated to award the 2020 World Champion titles. “There is no minimum for the WRC events, the FIA rally boss argues that there must be at least seven rallies in the World Championship in order for the champion to be crowned.

– I don’t think the champion can be declared on the basis of three rallies. giving it with just three completed rallies would not have much sport value. We are preparing a rule change that will require at least seven races for the championship,, Matton said .

CoronaViru: WRC Safari Rally July Plans Face Ticking Clock as Finland plans postponement

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CoronaViru: WRC Safari Rally July Plans Face Ticking Clock as Finland plans postponement

According to the joint statement released by FIA and WRC promotor, indicates that it will have to wait longer to know if safari rally will be on the scheduled date of July 16th-19th or postponed. As FIA keeps on monitoring the situation in all WRC organising countries, Currently the government of Kenya imposed travel restrictions foreigners aren’t allowed to enter Kenya and this will be reviewed on 15th this month.

The statement from Kenyan government on 15th May will shade a clear picture on the way to go about safari rally.

Meanwhile Finland is looking at a possibility to postpone the event to September or October. For Rally New Zealand evaluation is being made till end of May to know its fate as stated in FIA statement.

Rally Turkey, Rally Duetschland, Wales rally GB and Rally Japan are still planning to run the events on scheduled dates as they monitor the covid-19 situation.

““Our goal is to now continue to monitor as best as we can with the evolving situation around the pandemic and the Government restrictions, the joint statement from FIA says.

Adds that “No decisions on event dates will be made before updates on the respective emergency status are available. There is a duty of care to all stakeholders including fans, drivers, teams, media, suppliers and others to protect not only ourselves but also the wider community, and this remains our key focus.

“We remain committed to continuing with as many rallies as we can either on their current date, or where possible, a rescheduled date.

“There remains constant dialogue amongst FIA, WRC Promoter, teams and event organisers to evaluate all options for running events, including but not limited to: event format (competition days, event overlay, competitive distance); championship requirements (counting rounds and points); logistics (facilities, locations, transport); any required social distancing, health, safety and medical requirements for competitors, teams, media and spectators.

“FIA and WRC Promoter remain focused on the need to keep professional and private/customer teams, drivers and sponsors engaged and viable ongoing concerns for when the season can resume.”

 

 

WRC Portugal canceled

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Fafe Stage Photo: By Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool

Due to the COVID 19 global pandemic, Vodafone rally of Portugal has been the first WRC event to be canceled in the 2020 calendar year shifting from the postponement.

The event which was scheduled for 21- 24 May saw the federation of Portugal taking a “force majure” decision to postpone it due to the outbreak of deadly corona virus. Argentina and Italy ware other rounds which ware postponed for the same reasons and the respective clubs have not taken decisions yet either to cancel them.

Automovel Club de Portugal had plans to push the event in October but according to the released statement indicates the thought has been binned.

“After a joint assessment together with our partners, the various municipalities, national authorities and sponsors, all health and safety conditions needed to run the WRC Vodafone Rally de Portugal in a safe way are not achievable given the unpredictable situation that we live in these days, and also the uncertainty of opening the national borders or airspace”, the ACP stated.

“Due to this critical situation, the Automovel Club de Portugal is forced to cancel the Portuguese round of the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship.

“The Automovel Club de Portugal deeply regrets this decision.
But it is the responsible decision bearing in mind the thousands of supporters, teams, municipalities, sponsors and all the people involved in the event, that was responsible in 2019 for an economic impact in the national economy of more than €142million.”

“The ACP has already applied for Rally Portugal to be given its usual May date on next year’s WRC calendar”, the statement added.

Mafu Mafu gets relief from TK designs and construction Co Ltd

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The main sponsors of Mafu Mafu racing team TK DESIGNS & CONSTRUCTION CO Ltd have donated food to the team in response to the Covid 19 effect.

Mr Mayanja Godfrey handed the food items to driver Ponsiano Lwakataka which will be distributed to team engineers and motorsport fans among others.

“Our immense gratitude and appreciation to all our sponsors who have turned up to donate in the fight against Covid 19”, Mr Ponsiano said.

Photo from Mafu Mafu Facebook page