Zim drivers seek Toyota Challenge glory

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Local drivers will be bidding for glory when the 50th edition of the Toyota Zimbabwe Challenge Rally revs off next week to kick- start the eight-legged 2012 FIA African Rally Championships Series.

Chances of a Zimbabwean lifting the coveted title for a consecutive year are very high as local drivers dominate the entry list by providing 13 of the 17 competitors who had entered the event last with the four foreign drivers coming from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Africa.

Leading the Zimbabwean charge are former champions Jamie Whyte and Chase Attwell who won the event in 2009 and 2010 respectively.

Attwell, who will be co-driven by Miles Skinner in a Toyota Auris S2000, was only 19 when he romped to victory during the 2009 before two-time African champion, Whyte followed up with a win in 2010.

Conrad Rautenbach notched up his fourth Zimbabwe Challenge last year to complete a hat-trick of wins by local drivers.

The two-time African champion will however not be there to defend his title this year after taking a one-year sabbatical from motor rallying.

In an interview with NewsDay Sport yesterday, Themba Mazvimbakupa, a Zimbabwe Motorsport Federation official said chances were high that another Zimbabwean could be on the podium again this year.

Yes, Im very confident that another Zimbabwean could win it again this year. We have guys like Jamie Whyte, the former African champion, Craig Green, who has won the national championship several times, Chase Attwell, who won the event in 2009 is also capable of winning the event and so that Jess Watson, Mazvimbakupa said.

Meanwhile, Rwandan rally driver Davite Giancarlo has set his sight on this years ARC crown as he begin his quest for continental glory with the Toyota Zimbabwe Challenge Rally next week.

Giancarlo told Times Sport of Rwanda yesterday: My target is to win the Africa Rally Championship this year. I am ready and the vehicle (Subaru Impreza) is also in good condition. It is not always an easy go-through.

They are a lot of hurdles in this championship, but I will give it a try and am optimistic for the challenge ahead, added Giancarlo.

Apart from Giancarlo, Jas Mangat of Uganda (Subaru Impreza) and Mohammed Essa from Zambia (Subaru Impreza) are the other foreigners registered for the rally.