Rajiv Ruparelia’s triumph in last weekend’s Kalangala autocross event was enough for him to seal the 2019 national autocross title at the first time of asking. In three weeks’ time, he also has a chance to sweep the Clubman Rally Championship (CRC) at the Mogas rally.
In the same vein, Yasin Nasser will also clinch his first National Rally Championship (NRC) title if he finishes second in the same event. Not so often does a newcomer steal headlines but in the case of Rajiv, his motorsport CV is already stacked and his trophy cabinet impressive.
Ordinarily, it takes a rookie at least two years to join the mainstream NRC because under the Federation of Motorsport Clubs of Uganda (FMU) regulations, a driver in their first year of competition must compete in the autocross class, in which one must compete in at least three events in order to graduate to the CRC category.
It was only in June that Rajiv joined the motorsport fray when the three categories of the national championship were already underway. Ideally, he would have joined the CRC category next year but FMU relaxed regulations last season to fast-track drivers who exhibit consistency to match NRC drivers.
That meant that Rajiv started his career by simultaneously competing for the autocross and CRC championships. Last weekend, he powered his Volkswagen Polo to victory by beating Andy Musoke by 10 seconds while Jonas Kansiime finished third.
That means he has won the three autocross events entered as well as topping the points scorecards in two CRC events. In every NRC event, the top finisher in the CRC category earns 20 points, 15 for the runner-up while the third gets 12.
So, as things stand, Rajiv has already wrapped up the autocross title but he has a huge battle to win the CRC crown in which he leads on 40 points, just a point ahead of Ibrahim Lubega. Peter Businge trails in third with 35 points.
However, that’s the least of worries for Rajib.
“All I care about now is the experience gained and I’m not focusing on the [CRC] title,” he said after winning in Kalangala. Regardless of the result, Rajiv is well-positioned to join the NRC next season, where he will come up against the household names.
Meanwhile, just as Rajiv wil be joining the top tier, unheralded Nasser could win his first national title if Blick doesn’t win the event and he finishes within the points bracket. All this sets up a mouth-watering finale to the 2019 rally season.