BY UGANDA VANGUARD
KAMPALA – Rally driver Rajiv Ruparelia plans to import a new machine to participate in the Africa Rally Championship (ARC) in Kenya next year.
“I have like one more year for training, upgrade from my VW Polo Proto (rally vehicle) to R5 for the ARC. We are going for those South Africans and Kenyans. Why is it that it should be Kenyans and South Africans winning? I am going to hold Uganda flag up high in the air and go not only to participate but win the championship,” he said.
Rajiv is navigated by Ronnie Walia and managed by Dipu Ruparelia while Mike Mwangi is the Chief Mechanic.
The ARC is a World Rally Championship (WRC) organized by Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). The championship was first held in 1981 and won by Shekhar Mehta. The most successful driver in the championship’s history is Zambian driver Satwant Singh with eight championships.
Speaking on Sanyu FM sports programme, Saturday February 8, 2020, Rajiv, the Managing Director, Ruparelia Group of Companies said he was inspired by former rally driver, Chipper Adams, a reknown corner specialist.
He explained, “He could come to pick me and my sister from school, my sister would seat in front and I would be thrown in the back seat. It was crazy, he innovated the rally sport.”
Rajiv said in his third generation as a Ugandan nationality who left a good job in UK, he to contribute to development of his nation.
Asked when he conceived the idea to join the sport, Rajiv, said “I decided to join last year, started to look for a car but my mother was totally objected. One day I went to my dad (Sudhir Ruparelia) and I said dad, this is my budget and he replied if you are going for a car go for a better car for safety.”
He later went to South Africa for training but said he did not gain much.
“I thought I was going to fully flagged academy but that was not case. The first car we drove, we drove it so hard and engine popped out. The second car had issues with the breaking system, so the certificate I have is for just like two hours,” said Rajiv.
He added, “In my first year has been of learning, procuring better spare parts, how to drive the car better and organizing our rally team. I am like 40 percent of what I am supposed to be.”
Rajiv said rally is the biggest sport in the country that should be further promoted.
“As much as I love rally, my business is priority, I cannot allow rally takeover my business.”
Asked why he named his rally team ‘double trouble’, Rajiv said we wanted a name that could be easy to chant, stick in the mind the people and build a house hold brand.”
He recently won the Auto Cross Rally in Kapeeka race, his second sweet win ever since he joined the motor rally fraternity last year. His first win came in at the prestigious Federation of Motorsport Clubs of Uganda (FMU) 2019 Autocross event in Kayunga.
The victory in Kayunga came on his second competitive outing having came second on his debut race at Enduro Autocross Championship 2019 at Zion Estates in Ssisa and also won the Hoima Cross Country rally