On first arrival, within a few weeks I looked up the African Rally Championship and decided I wanted to go and see either the Kenyan or Tanzanian rounds and get involved as much as I could. Two and a half years on I am now a Senior Official in the sport here, and have three rallies under my belt as one of the main organisers, and two completed training seminars with officials from the FIA academy in Abu Dhabi.
It is incredibly exciting to be able to say that about myself, and for it to be true. I never dreamed of being right in the centre of a sport I love so much as this, and never thought I’d get this far in such a small time. Nevertheless, the last year has given me so much experience and time with the people in the middle of it all, that I am now a known face in Motorsport in this region, and have been offered the opportunity to work alongside the top Officials from AAT and FIA in the upcoming PUMA Energy Rally of Tanzania 2013 as the main results officer for the rally.
Working in a sport like this, that does not have a huge following or any real solid backing and funding is not just difficult, but incredibly frustrating at times. There are plenty of people around who say they are part of our club, or part of the system as a whole, but who do very little to actually drive it forward, and get really bogged down in the inter-club politics to the extent things breaking down and events cancelled with no real reason. As an outsider to not only the sport, but to East Africa as a whole, I believe I’ve been able to breathe a breath of fresh air into our little pocket of motorsport in Kilimanjaro and bring ourselves up from the worst organised bunch of losers to being, along with the Arusha club, among the most respected and called upon group of rally experts and officials that Tanzania has to offer.
Before I left for Zambia and Zimbabwe I spent the previous three weeks fairly busy day in day out working on bringing the cars and the show to Moshi for the 2nd round of the National Rally championship in the form of the Kilimanjaro Vasaikhi Rally 2013. From going around the town delivering sponsorship proposals and desperately begging our partners and suppliers for better prices and deals to the very day of the rally where I was stuck in an office with my laptop for six hours, I can truly say that this was my time to shine. The organisation and preparation for an eventlike this, be it in Tanzania or anywhere is huge, and in our country with the lack of funds available and lack of experienced people who you can trust with delicate jobs, it becomes ever more challenging, but we pulled it off, and had the biggest starting order of any rally this year or last. We had our problems, and at the time they seemed huge and daunting, but working with good people, and keeping our communication up and running meant that nothing was beyond our capabilities, and we closed off the event in the early evening as a resounding success.
Roll forward six weeks, and we get to the Simba Cement Rally of Tanga 2013, which it has to be said was a different story altogether. First off, I was not involved in the pre-event organising, sponsor drive or any other part of the build up. I was in Tanga for the seminar from FIA, and on arrival was asked to help out as event secretary for the Saturday and Sunday when the rally would be held. I never thought it would lead to what happened next. During scrutineering on the Saturday morning we had all kinds of delays and issues that pointed squarely at the apparently absent Tanga Motor Sports Club. During the day, I spoke to only one member of the club, and even he did not arrive until four hours into proceedings. How can a club organise an event, and then really just let it run without even being there to check on it? Its beggars belief. Needless to say, a group of us from Moshi and Dar Es Salaam took up the mantle and began unpicking the fabric of the event to bring it back up to speed, and got the cars through scrutineering and final meetings in the early hours of the evening. Day two saw us head out to service park which was on sponsors’ ground and set up for the day. No provision for electricity, water, printer, you name it, we didn’t have it. We carried on regardless, and got all but three cars through to the end, with Louis crashing out on the first section, and two mechanical breakdowns being the only retirements. I’m not going to go on and on about this rally, as I’d rather forget it, but the hard work that a few of us put in was not unnoticed, and I was approached by the CEO of AAT at the end of the rally to request that I do this job for each rally from now on, as the chief results officer for the championship. This just goes to show how putting hard work in can lead to things getting better.
In four weeks time I’m off to Dar Es Salaam to take this post up officially for the Tanzanian round of the African Rally Championship, and this is where it really kicks off, as I’ll be working with teams from across Africa and beyond to deliver the kind of event that we should be putting on, and to give the fans of our sport what they want: a well organised rally.
For now its back to work, with programmes restarting at the computer centre following my long abscence, and our new business installing and supporting security cameras and solutions kicking off in Moshi this week, and my first foray into DJing in Tanzania beginning this Friday at Glacier in town where myself and my German Dreadlocked counterpart Nils are taking to the decks for the evening in an attempt to improve the rather shocking music scene in this country and bring something new to the table. Moshi won’t know what hit it….