Emmanuel Katto in the year: 1998

This was the year Emmanuel Katto stamped his mark on the Safari rally, and since it was still part of the WRC calendar, he really made his point by going up aganist legends and the best of that time.

 

Safari Rally: 28 Feb - Mar 02 - 1998

This event is remarkable in a number of ways, its also one of those events that the whole Emmanuel Katto family support was to be witnessed. With family support behind you, trust everything will go your way.

 

The Team was set to tackle the 1998 Safari Rally with all its glamour and prestige, with confidence. Mostly encouraged by the fact that the Cologne based Toyota Team Europe with often selective technical and material support and above all the top ten seeding, which puts the lime light on the Emka Rally Team as the highest placed indigenous privateers crew.

 

The popularity especially from Uganda-based spectators support was immense dictating a lot of excitement throughout the region. It is estimated that over eight hundred "800" individuals braved the distance from Kampala to Nairobi using all sorts of transport means to watch and support the EMKA Rally Team. Emanuel Katto said "it is really encouraging to note the dedication of Ugandan supporters and love for the sport, it is now up to our team not to let them down because besides all, they provide for a big part of our moral boosting".

 

For the past few years the Safari has been characterized by the "Kenya Welcome" event this time held at the African Heritage Club on Mombasa Road. Emmanuel Katto and Frank Gitau looked well accommodated amidst all the top drivers amongst them six former World Champions. It was interesting to note that the EMKA family was present and indeed the only children at the function were the supportive Junior and Sean, no doubt the future motor sport champions. EMKA Rally Team has heavy family support and a lot of success is based on this unraveling support, something we believe a lot of the other drivers especially in the region should emulate.

 

Reconnaissance

Africa Online lent a marketing hand in initiating a sponsorship deal whereby a website highlighting the team's progress would be set up in return of which AFOL's stickers and memorabilia would be displayed by the Emka Rally Team. An official launch was made and the local newsprint and TV were there to view the historic occasion. There was also an interview with Capital Radio FM 98.4 where Emmanuel, Frank and Caroline Mutoko the station's and motorsport correspondent had a candid discussion on the Emka Rally Team's 1999 Safari strategy.

 

Flag Off

Dubbed the crew with the "East African Cooperation" the Kenyan president was on hand to flag off the all African crew amidst a very excited crowd. The president himself offered words of encouragement and was indeed pleased to see our local crews excel in motorsport. The weather was bright unlike previously muddy and wet during reconnaissance. Ideally the team preferred a much wetter rally for the mere fact that this is the uniqueness of the safari and offers a leveled playing field for most of the top runners. Emanuel Katto added: " the uniqueness of the Safari is the ever changing weather and conditions and we hope it may rain in the next few hours to increase competitiveness".

START LIST
No.
Entrant
Drivers
Nat.
Car
Grp
CI
1
Team Mitsubishi Ralliart
Tommi Mäkinen 
Risto Mannisenmaki
FIN
FIN
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV
A
10
2
Team Mitsubishi Ralliart
Richard Burns 
Robert Reid
GB
GB
Mitsubishi Carisma GT
A
10
3
555 Subaru World Rally Team
Colin McRae 
Nicky Grist
GB
GB
Subaru Impreza WRC 97
A
10
4
555 Subaru World Rally Team
Piero Liatti
Fabrizia Pons
I
I
Subaru Impreza WRC 97
A
10
5
Toyota Castrol Team
Carlos Sainz
Luis Moya
E
E
Toyota Corolla WRC
A
10
6
Toyota Castrol Team
Didier Auriol
Denis Giraudet
F
F
Toyota Corolla WRC
A
10
7
Ford Motor Co Ltd
Juha Kankkunen
Juha Repo
FIN
FIN
Ford Escort WRC
A
10
8
Ford Motor Co Ltd
Ari Vatanen
Fred Gallagher
FIN
GB
Ford Escort WRC
A
10
9
EMKA Rally Team
Emmanuel Katto
Frank Gitau
UG
KE
Toyota Celica GT-Four
A
10
10
Frederic Dor
Frederic Dor
Kevin Gormley
F
GB
Subaru Impreza 555
A
10
11
Seat Sport
Harri Rovanpera
Viotto Silander
FIN
FIN
Seat Ibiza GTi 16V
A
9
12
Chris Rosenberger
Chris Rosenberger
Per Carlsson
A
S
Golf GTi Kit Car
A
9
13
Manfred Stohl
Manfred Stohl
Peter Müller
A
D
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo III
N
5
14
Seat Sport
Oriol Gomez
Marc Marti
E
E
Seat Ibiza GTi 16V
A
9
15
Sawfish Racing
Raimund Baumschläger
Klaus Wicha
A
D
Golf GTi Kit Car
A
9
16
Patrick Njiru
Patrick Njiru
Gillian Webb
KE
GB
Subaru Impreza
N
5
17
Luis Climent
Luis Climent
Alex Romani
E
E
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo III
N
5
18
Marco Brighetti
Marcoi Brighetti
Abdul Sidi
KE
KE
Subaru Impreza
A
10
19
Rudi Stohl
Rudi Stohl
Jürgen Bertl
A
D
Audi Coupe S2
A
10
20
Karim Hirji
Karim Hirji
Frank Nekusa
UG
UG
Toyota Celica ST 205
A
10
21
Mark Tilbury
Mark Tibury 
Bill Kirk
GB
GB
Nissan Pulsar
N
5
22
Leszek Kuzaj
Leszek Kuzaj
Marcieij Baran
PL
PL
Mitsubishi Lanver Evo III
N
5
23
Jim Kahumbura
Jim Kahumbura
David Macharia
KE
KE
Toyota Celica GT Four
N
5
24
Paul Bailey
Paul Bailey
B. S. Sehmi
KE 
KE
Subaru Impreza
N
5

CS 1: Super Special Stage - Competitive: 4.3 km.

This fun showpiece of 4.3 Kms at the Ngong Race course stadium provided a variety of tight and sweeping bends and one thumping ditch as a foretaste of things to come. More important than the minor time differences, it gave the drivers a welcome chance to burst their early adrenaline bubbles before heading for the 100km plus sections out in Kenya's southern wilds.

The SEAT Ibiza 2-litre Kit Cars were well off their pace some 23 seconds adrift even over such a short distance and slower than the two top private entrants - Uganda's Emanuel Katto in a Toyota Celica and France's Frederic Dor in a Subaru Impreza.

 

CS 2 Oltepesi - Ngong: 108.12 km

Leading private entrant Emmanuel Katto (Toyota Celica) had brakes that worked, but overshot the flying finish, clipped the control table, and stopped only just in time to stay in the control area. What a moment that was.

 

CS 3 Hunter's Lookout - Timbuktu: 71.90 km

The conditions were getting treacherous with CS3 being very rough especially characterized by drifts, blind drifts and more drifts. Strategy was to keep within easy reach of the first 8 cars should they experience any problems and safely ahead of the chasing F2 challenge of the SEAT and Volkswagen teams. Emanuel Katto was quoted as saying "we are running our own rally and are happy to maintain our position for the rest of the day" so this became the strategy.

 

CS 4 Olkejiado - Il Bisel: 109.87 km

The severity of conditions on this section were illustrated by Uganda's Emmanuel Katto (Toyota Celica), who had kept in remarkably close touch with the leading pack on the first two competitive sections but was nine minutes off the pace this time though still substantially quicker than the 2-litre kit cars in his wake.

 

CS 6 Super Competitive: 4.30 km

Emmanuel Katto in a Toyota Celica maintained his privateer lead and a huge smile, Frederic Dor (Subaru Impreza) hit a bad drift heavily and suffered overheating problems thereafter. It was still eight-out-of-eight survivors for the major teams, and the two available slots in the Top 10 were occupied by leading privateer Emmanuel Katto (Toyota Celica) and Harri Rovanpera (SEAT) taking the upper hand in the leapfrog exchange with the Swafish Volkswagens.

 

All in all it was a successful leg for top privateer Emmanuel Katto (Toyota Celica) of Uganda and Gp N leader Luis Climent (Mitsubishi Evo III) from Spain. Safari entrants had polarized into five distinct groups by the end of the first leg. The eight cars of the major teams were all intact and clearly ahead – only 12 minutes (and no other players) separating them all.

 

Uganda’s Emmanuel Katto and Kenya’s Frank Gitau in a Toyota Celica GT4, by far were the best-placed privateers and best-placed locals, earning a special loud reception from crowds around the route. Their potential rivals, Frederic Dor (Subaru Impreza) blew their turbo while Marco Brighetti (Subaru Impreza) fell prey to gearbox problems and a smashed windscreen. 

Then after another gap of 14 minutes comes a four-car battle among the SEAT and Volkswagen Kit Car teams with crew members from Finland, Spain, Austria, Germany and Sweden – only seven minutes separating them and no other class of car driving a wedge into their pack. SEAT finished a day of see-sawing fortunes with Harri Rovanpera (stuck for a while in a sand river) and Oriol Gomez narrowly ahead of Volkswagen’s Raimund Baumschläger and Kris Rosenberger. 

Next come the more strung out pack of production cars contesting Gp N honors. The first leg in this category belonged to Spain’s Luis Climent in a Mitsubishi Lancer, 12 minutes clear of Kenya’s Patrick Njiru in a Subaru Impreza who is in turn 14 minutes clear of Kenya’s Paul Bailey (smashed a windscreen pillar on an overhanging branch) in a similar car. The real contests of the second leg will be a battle for position within each of these groups. 

So although the Gp N and "others" competition only starts at 14th position, it remains an exciting and international affair with stronger local drivers facing off against overseas enthusiasts like Poland’s Leszek Kuzaj in a Mitsubishi Lancer, Andorra’s Feran Font in a SEAT Ibiza and Finland’s Antero Miikkulainen in a Nissan Pulsar.

The fifth battlefield is in the Four by Four Safari, a separate event running in parallel, where the leading T1 cars (Raid-style 4WD estates) are again only a few minutes apart, led by veteran Bruce Field in a Toyota Land-Cruiser VX, with John Rose (VX), Glen Matthews (Range-Rover) and Steve Rose (VX) in hot pursuit. At very different levels but at every level, the first leg of the 1998 Safari set the stage for some fascinating battles.

 

Disaster

Emmanuel Katto with his Toyota Celica finished CS6 with one front wheel missing and a broken rear axle, when the mechanics checked the full extent of underbody damage they advised the Ugandan hero to relax and surrender his time card. EMKA was last seen enjoying a cup of tea with Toyota Team Europe's George Donaldson. A stabilizer bolt had broken and caused the entire front left assembly to collapse during a 160kp/h stretch in the sisal plantations of the CS "It just came off, without warning" Emmanuel Katto lamented.

 

Emanuel Katto and Frank Gitau were forced to remove the wheel which had lodges in the arch of the car disallowing any forward movement. The remainder of the 25 km of the 66 km section were completed on 3 tyres. The damage caused was so immense that it bent the chassis despite all the parts being available for replacement.

 

Double blow for leading local drivers

Local hopes in the 1998 Safari Rally took a double blow first with the retirement of Uganda's Emmanuel Katto (Toyota Celica) then Kenya's Patrick Njiru (Subaru Impreza) early on the second leg. Katto, partnered by Kenya's Frank Gitau, had produced a superb drive to lead the privateer rankings and hold a top 10 place from the start, they were the only crew who stayed anywhere near the pace of the big boys "WRC's best". But on CS8 a front drive shaft broke causing a lot of damage - the wheel had to be removed to allow the car to move. EMKA managed to drive through the section with one front wheel missing (and still set 14th fastest time in the process!) but by the time they reached service at Equator the rear axle was broken and irreparable damage had been done to the underbody.

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