Thursday, July 29, 2021

Muhangi & His Subaru group A: The only Aboriginal African to win ARC title

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Did you know that the only group A Subaru that conquered the African continent was driven by a native Ugandan called Charles Muhangi?

Muhangi imported the group A Subaru into Uganda in 1998 all the way from the United Kingdom fully rebuilt by Dom Barkley, as previously it was owned by Pierro Liatt a WRC driver by then.

Charles competed in the era of Uganda’s rich, spirited, addicted, aggressive and fast drivers by then and some of them ware Karim Hirij, Emanuel Katto, Moses Lumala, Chippa Adams, Charlie Lubega and some of the rookies Who ware promising to be tough and deadly that’s Gerald Kiddu RIP and Collins Kibera.

Driving a Mitsubishi evolution III, he felt it wasn’t giving him what he wanted. As he went to acquire a more powerful evolution, Dom Barkley advised him to try the group A Subaru, tested it and negotiated the price and this is how he ended up in the Subaru Impreza group A.
The car yielded fruits when he went on to win Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally that every year[1998] hence naming it “Ekitaguriiro”, which translates [The dancer/an official dance from Ankole western Uganda where he hails.

Not only being enough, but he also clinched the NRC title of “1998” which he only had in his entire rallying career at home/Uganda. Charles went through 98 while getting involved in scuffles with Marshalls and the federation as he logged in complaints every now and then, at times thinking was being cheated.

With such intolerant behaviors, the federation slapped a ban on him from participating in the NRC calendar year 1999, despite the fact that he had just acquired a new car.

Muhangi never stood down at the beginning of 1999, instead, he saw it as an opportunity to take his talent and efforts to the continent to engage his foot with big names in the chase for the African Rally championship. By then the African Rally Championship had only Six rounds of Rallye Bandama Ivory Coast, Tara Namibia Rally, Zambia International Rally, Dunlop rally of Zimbabwe, Equator Rally of Kenya and pearl of Africa Uganda Rally.

Missing out on Bandama Rally, he went to Tara Namibia rally and finished 2nd behind home boy Himmel Richard who was driving a Toyota conquest, proceeded to Zambia international challenge rally where he finished 2nd behind Zimbabwean Hannes Cruger driving a Toyota conquest, next went for Dunlop of Zimbabwe and won. Note that he skipped both Equator rally of Kenya[ARC] and Safari rally[WRC].

In Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally back at home, he was battling it out with Karim Hirji in the Toyota Celica, Chippa Adams driving a Toyota Supra nicknamed “the hissing Cobra” though Adams was not scoring on the continent since his car was not FIA homologated and other lethal drivers. Chippa Adams came out victorious as Muhangi finished 2nd again to gather enough points to become “ever” the first indigenous/black to win the African Rally Championship title navigated by Steven Byaruhanga in the “Subaru Impreza group A”.

Charles and Byaruhanga in one of the events

Charles became a Subaru fan and later saw him acquiring another Subaru Impreza WRC /R17 which was later bought by a Swizz national and taken back to Europe, well as the African champion car is still somewhere in a shipping yard in Uganda.

Unfolding Charles Muhangi’s BAN will be our next series you shouldn’t miss!! Credit to Aaron Nsamba and Joshua Mayanja.

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  1. All contents true except the photo was taken in Kigali, Rwanda in 2000. Muhangi beat Satwant Singh to win that 2000 Mountain Gorilla Rally which started in Mbarara, Uganda and ended in Kigali, Rwanda. His co-driver was NOT Steven Byaruhanga BUT Kisitu Mayanja.

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