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The Staatsolie Diesel Savannah Rally 2010


The SOL Adventure Rally was only an exercise compared to the real thing: the Staatsolie Diesel Savannah Rally. A prestigious rally, internationally famous with competitors from French-Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Aruba, the Netherlands and the U.S. With a 100 cars meaning 200 participants, plus an other 200(!) people from the organisation, it is the biggest motorsports event in South-America. So it started with a flag parade. The spectacular start was on Friday evening and the first night we had to continue until late Saturday afternoon, which means that Saturday evening everyone was knock-out. After this the rally was only in daytime, so everybody was fresh for the party with live music on Sunday evening. But altogether it was a tough couple of days, and JW chose not to participate because he hates boredom on the passenger's seat in the back. With the advantage that Rita didn't have to stay home alone for 3 days.

Just when JW made this decision, JW's niece Lindy called and asked if she could come along... Good idea, not only because she is a good sport but also because she more experience in car rallies.

The Savannah Rally was really tough. It was announced to be similar to a Camel Trophy and this was not exaggerated. The first route took us all the way to Moengo, through many streams and over some SARK-built bridges through the forest to Blaka Watra, where one can swim in clear black water. The next day, after a great breakfast, we crossed the Suriname river on two custom pontoons (by the way these also transported two Staatsolie gasoline trucks to Blaka Watra) and the rally was continued in more open savannahs.

We got many difficult but funny assignments and we appeared to do well as some cracks began to follow us. The chairman praised our special Dutch technique: not driving like crazy through the shrubs, but step out of the car and find the mark on foot. Much quicker, but not very Surinamese as the guys here never step out of their car.

The second night we camped at Overbridge by the Suriname river and we blessed our old-fashioned cotton tent, conspicuous among all those small nylon tents.

The live band was great, the dancing went on all evening and the night was too short, although next morning's start was not extremely early.

During a tough ride through the forest we  got stuck in the mud together with many other cars and #1 had to pull out #2 and so on. Our starting number was #51 and as of #10 the problems started in that spot, so in the end around 80 cars had to be helped out, with the aid of team spirit and improvisatory talent. Pity there was no tv-camera around (the rally was all 3 days on tv) but P recorded a small movie.

Movie Savannah Rally (6.34 Mb)

And talking about tv-coverage, we made a good show later that day when we had to drive through some kind of lake. When we saw our predecessor going in rather deep, P stepped out of the car and waded into the water, looking for higher grounds. So the tv-reporters immediately rushed forward to cover live on tv what that crazy Dutch woman was doing! The Dutch rally techniques are going to be famous in Suriname, especially since we ended first in our class!


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