The last time we saw Queen Kalimpinya was on the runway competing for the Miss Rwanda crown. It was in 2017 when she came out third.
Optimistic and ambitious, the beauty queen has since expanded her paths, tapping into motorsport and making her grand debut on the race track.
For a very long time, the 23-year-old admits to being an “adrenaline junkie” and when an opportunity presented itself for rallying, she gladly took it.
Two years after her victory at Miss Rwanda, a member of the Rwanda Automobile Club approached her and asked her to join the women’s rally team.
“No one is limited to doing one thing,” Kalimpinya said during an interview with The new times.
Queen Kalimpinya, the co-driver poses for a photo before the race. Courtesy
She learned to ride a motorcycle at an early age and loves everything automotive.
Now operating as the co-driver of a rally car, she navigates for the race where she reads a set of pace notes to the driver; informing them of what to expect, where to turn and obstacles to watch out for.
Kalimpinya was born in Gasabo, Kigali into a family of five siblings. Her family later moved to Gitega, Kigali where she says she had quite an interesting childhood.
She was always in constant competition with her older brother who is two years older than her. The two were always together competing in different games, and Kalimpinya liked to follow his brother everywhere.
Most of the time, she found herself “chilling” with boys, thus developing a tomboyish behavior. And that’s how she learned to ride a bike at a very young age.
Kalimpinya explains that she got into competitive rally racing with the encouragement of the Rwanda Automobile Club which she says has always supported her throughout this journey.
She appreciates them more for being with her throughout her journey and their initiative to empower women to scale them to their abilities through rally racing.
“It is still early to say that rallying is a job for me. I’m still learning and I appreciate this effort, I’ll see what happens,” says Kalimpinya.
A field dominated by men
Motorsport has been a male-dominated sport over the years, but Kalimpinya says she appreciates the club’s initiative to work hard to change that by allowing women to actively participate in motorsport.
The club encourages women and trains them to participate in competitive races.
She also praises her male colleagues for supporting her dreams and those of other runners.
“I hold my male colleagues and competitors in high regard as they encourage me and other women. They also go the extra mile to train us to improve our skills.
Kalimpinya holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, which she says has come in handy for her rally racing endeavors.
Rally racing involves a lot of logistics which is required by co-drivers before starting a race. Therefore, she has merged her knowledge with her applied skills and, in turn, uses them when she is on the race track.
She urges young girls who are passionate about motorsport to go ahead and get involved, encouraging them that it’s not as scary as it sounds, but rather a very rewarding endeavour.