Veteran motor rally driver Jamie Whyte will be out to gain further ground on his compatriot and current African Rally Championship (ARC) leader, Conrad Rautenbach when he takes part in the KCB Pearl of Africa Rally in Uganda this weekend.
Whyte (50), who was expected to leave the country for Uganda last night, is aiming to take advantage of Rautenbach’s absence in Uganda to close the gap in the championship race.
Rautenbach, who registered in both the ARC and the South African Rally Championship will miss KCB Pearl of Africa Rally as he will be taking part in the Volkswagen Rally in the Eastern Cape which also takes place this weekend.
The KCB Pearl of Africa Rally runs from Friday to Sunday, while the Volkswagen Rally will take place between Friday and Saturday.
Rautenbach currently leads the eighth legged African Rally Championship’s drivers’ standings with 93 points with Whyte second on 76 points with three more rounds left after Uganda.
“We go to Uganda as the defending champions and we are going there to win it. With Conrad not taking part, this is definitely our chance to reduce the gap in the race for the championship with only three rounds left.
“I’m keen to make it two wins out of two outings and continue from where we left off in Kenya and I’m confident we will do well and reduce the gap. The Subaru is already in Uganda and it looks in good condition and everyone in the service crew is eager for a good result,” said Whyte, who will be co-driven by his trusted lieutenant Phil Archenoul.
The KCB Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally is the fifth round of the eight-round 2011 FIA ARC series, whose first four rounds were held in Zimbabwe in March, South Africa in April, Zambia in May and Kenya last month.
While Whyte is hoping to do well in Uganda, his compatriot and rival, Rautenbach and his French co-driver Nicolas Klinger will also be in maximum attack mode when the second half of the South African Rally Championship resumes with the Volkswagen Rally in the Eastern Cape.
The privateer Green Fuel Ford Fiesta pair has claimed two wins, a podium place and crucially, a non-finish last time out in Kenya which they will be hoping to quickly get over.
“It was a devastating blow but it happened and we have to move on”, said Conrad. “The Kenyan Rally was exceptionally rough and in spite of driving as slowly as I could get away with, the car took a pounding”.
“It is one event where a driver can make a difference and make up time if there was problem. It’s a real driver’s rally where I can go hard and get rewarded with a competitive time,” said the 26 year old Rautenbach.