KIGALI, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- The Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally, spanning three days, began here on Friday with 26 drivers participating in the challenging competition.
The rally, now in its 6th edition of the African Rally Championship, will cover a total distance of 348.18 kilometers.
Aurore Mimosa, the Rwandan Minister of Sports, ceremoniously flagged off the race, stating, "since 1999, this rally has consistently connected Rwanda with the world of motorsports, attracting renowned drivers year after year. Undoubtedly, we see motorsports becoming increasingly remarkable, attractive, and popular, progressively dominating the region and strategically positioning itself in African motorsports."
She conveyed her confidence that this year's edition would surpass the excitement of previous years, with the inclusion of new drivers, modern vehicles, and advancements in motorsports technology. "It is now becoming an inspiration for the next generation, revealing potential career opportunities and attracting investments in the sports industry," she added.
Mimosa affirmed Rwanda's support for the organizers, recognizing the underlying development potential of motorsports. She emphasized the nation's commitment to the rally's growth and sustainability and invited experts, partners, sponsors, and investors to contribute to the African sports industry's development.
Christian Gakwaya, president of the Rwanda Automobile Club, remarked that the event began successfully with a commendable display and no incidents. He expressed optimism for the upcoming days and highlighted the intense competition among the continent's top drivers, all competing for the African Rally Championship title.
According to Gakwaya, motorsport offers significant visibility to Rwanda and promotes its tourism. He emphasized the club's commitment to meeting the championship's requirements and standards and increasing Rwandan participation in future events.
Rwandan female rally driver Queen Kalimpinya shared her enthusiasm, saying, "this super stage was good for me and my team because last year we were a bit slow, but now we have improved. Comparing myself today to last year, we have made progress. My goal is to become the champion of the Rwanda National Rally Championship."
The race began with two qualifying stages in Kigali and will continue in the Bugesera district over the next two days. It has attracted rally drivers from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, and France. ■