Foreign crews who have won Pearl Rally
2002: Johnny Gemmel (South Africa) Subaru Impreza WRX
*2006: Riyaz Kurji Subaru Impreza N8
2007. Conrad Rautenbach (Zimbabwe) Subaru Impreza N10
2008: Jamie Whyte (Zimbabwe) Subaru Impreza N10
*2009: Kurji (Posthumous champion)
2010: Whyte (Zimbabwe) Subaru Impreza N10
2012: Mohammed Essa (Zambia) Subaru Impreza N12
2014: Rajbir Rai (Kenya) Mitsubishi Evo X
2015: Jaspreet Singh Chatthe (Kenya) Mitsubishi Evo X
2017: Manvir Baryan (Kenya) Skoda Fabia R5
2018: Manvir Skoda Fabia R5
2019: Manvir Skoda Fabia R5
*(driving under Kenya license)
Kurji is the only driver to win the Pearl Rally under two different licences. He won the 2005 edition under Uganda licence and the following year he switched to Kenya.
Kampala: Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally (POAUR) is one of the highlight on the Uganda Motorsport calendar. It runs both as a National Championship and a round of FIA Africa Rally Championship (ARC).
Since running as a candidate rally for the ARC in 1997, the event has attracted a number of foreign crews from Southern, East and Central Africa.
Eight foreign crews have triumphed in the 22 years of the event.
The 2002 edition of POAUR was graced by South Africa crew of Johnny Gemmel and Robert Paisley in a Subaru Impreza WRX fresh from winning the Rwanda Rally. The South Africa crew was also leading the ARC title race with 30 points ahead of Satwant Singh from Zambia the eight time Africa champion.
First foreign winner
Gemmel dominated the event winning in a time of 4:01:52, beating the Kenyan crew of Gen Edmund and Carter Williams (Evo VI) by over three minutes and Uganda crew of Emma Katto and Rwabogo Busingye (Toyota Celica GT-4) a further 12 minutes. The South African crew went on to win the ARC title that year.
Unique history and sad ending
Riyaz Kurji bust to the rally scene in 2003 finishing the Pearl in 5 th place in his Evo 7. The following year in the Safari Rally Kenya held in Mombasa along with his co-driver Sayed Kadri in Evo7 finished second behind Carl ‘flash’ Tundo in a Subaru. Kurji/Kadri were classified first in ARC.
Kurji is the only driver to win the Pearl Rally under two different licences. He won the 2005 driving under Uganda licence and the
following year he switched to Kenya and triumphed.
In 2009, Riyaz and Kadri were leading the event but hit a tree in Mityana area. Riyaz died on the spot and the event was stopped.
However he was granted posthumously win. It was a sad end to his short rallying career. Riyaz joined Charlie Lubega (at that time) as only drivers to win the event three times.
In 2003, a certain teenager Conrad Rautenbach/ Peter Marsh from Zimbabwe driving a Toyota Corolla Rsi, made maiden appearance in the POAUR finishing third behind Uganda legends Charlie Lubega/ Abed Musa (Evo 4) and Moses Lumala/ Cedric Buzabo (Toyota Celica) over 18 minutes behind the winner. He was 37 seconds ahead of Dipu
Ruparelia / Jerome Kasaija in Evo 4 who finished 4 th .
But the 18- year- old left the mark on the local rally scene and promised to be back. Four years later (2007) a more mature Rautenbach with Marsh were back once again to try to conquer the Pearl Rally in a Subaru Impreza N10.
The Zimbabwean won the event beating the Japanese crew of Miyoshi Hideakiâ/Ichino Hakaru in a Mitsubishi Evo9 by three minutes and 28 seconds. The same year he clichéd the African title.
In 2008, Jamie Whyte followed his fellow countryman in winning the Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally.
The highest Ugandan crew in the event was female driver Rose Lwakataka/ George Ssemakula in a Subaru Impreza finished seventh, 34 mins, 34 seconds behind Whyte.
Essa, Mangat tussle out
The 2012 Shell Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally was battle between the 23- year-old Zambian rally ace Mohammed Essa/ Greg Stead and Uganda’s Jas Mangat/Ravi Soni both in Subaru N12
Essa who led from start to finish singled out Mangat, whom he beat by three minutes, as the only driver who impressed him. At the end of day two, Mangat had closed within 41 seconds but the Zambian stepped up his pace on the third and final day to open up a two-minute gap.
The Zambian who went on to win the ARC title that year, became the 5 th foreigner to win POAUR.
Beginning of an era
The Kenyan took over the mantle winning the POAUR from 2014 -2019 being interrupted briefly by Uganda crew of Alwi Hassan/ Enock Olinga (Subaru N14) in the 2016 event.
Kenya crew of Rajbir Singh Rai/ Tim Challen driving a Mitsubishi EvoX made debut in a two day Shell V-Power Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally around the town of Ssemuto, 50km north of Kampala.
The 24-year-old, son of legendary two-time Kenya champion Sarbi Rai made a winning debut ahead of three other foreign crew. He won the event by a mare 2 seconds from Gary Chaynes of Ivory Coast. Omar Mayanja/ Leon Ssenyange (Evo V) were the highest local crew in 5 th position.
The crew of Jaspreet Singh Chatthe/ Craig Thorley took over the baton from Rai winning the 2015 event in Mitsubishi Evo X
On three previous occasion, Chatthe had not finished the V- Pearl of Africa Rally. In 2014, Chatthe was leading early on day two before he dropped out.
He came into the event having won in South Africa, Zambia and Rwanda and was leading the ARC race with 75 points. He only failed to finish in Tanzania Rally. He also won the Safari Kenya Rally.
By winning the Pearl Rally, Chatthe was crowned the 2015 FIA African Rally Champion. His nearest challenger Jassy Singh of Zambia, rolled his Subaru Impreza on CS7.
Hat-trick of wins
The years 2017—19 was all about Manvir Baryan/ Drew Sturrock and Skoda Fabia 1600 R5 making its maiden appearance on Uganda soil. The Skoda crew won the 2017 event bettering their 4th place finish they achieved in 2014. This was his second time to participate in the Pearl rally.
Manvir won eight of the 10 sections and beating second placed Christakis Fitidis by a margin of nine minutes and 51 seconds.
The Kenyan driver defended his crown in 2018 relegating Ronald Ssebuguzi/ Leon Ssenyange (Evo X) and Mangat/ Joseph Kamya to second and third respectively.
The following year (2019) was an easy win for Kenyan Manvir in Kayunga. He beat his nearest opponent Yassin Nasser/ Ali Katumba (Subaru) by over 13 minutes.
The win also completed a hat-trick for the Kenyan, becoming the first driver to win the event in consecutive years. He also achieved the same feat in the ARC title.
The foreigners remain the drivers to beat as the Shell V-Power Pearl of
Africa Uganda Rally takes place 5-7 May, 2023.