“Jeroen! Come! NOW! TOWING CABLE
NOW!!!!!” We stood nose down and tilted on a steep sand slope and
the car was in serious danger of capsizing. JW had followed the
instruction to drive full speed in low 4WD gear up against the steep
but the officials had forgotten to add that we should keep left. JW
steered a little bit to the right side... with almost fatal effect.
Instant panic by the officials but adequate action as well, not in the
least from the car behind us, and in no time we were pulled out of this
hazardous situation, back on the hill top.
The Savanna Rally 2012. For the tough driver this means four days of
crossing under high pressure through areas varying from dusty sand to
muddy forest. Deep pools and even streams are no obstacles. Forest
trails are usually not wider than 2 meters so JW never hesitates and
steers the car straight into the bush when necessary; scratches and
dents are inevitable. (This time we only lost part of the rear bumper.)
For the navigator the rally means four days of heavy brains racking in a
cavorting and bucking car. Map, dividers, ruler, pen and compass in one
hand, the other hand ready to operate the tripmaster (= meter counter,
utmost precision is necessary), keeping yourself oriented on the
surroundings and at the same time solving many puzzles. In short: a
We drove quickly out
of the city into the savanna heading for the Highway To Hell,
where we were almost knocked over in the middle of the night.
Steep sand slopes kept following us, as after a slippery bridge
consisting of tree trunks, we arrived again at the bottom of a steep
sand hill. No prob lem in the ordinary course of events, but in the
meantime our 4WD gearbox had started to make strange noises; after
consultation with the officials
we were guided out of the line and around the hill. The rest of the
night we dared not use the 4WD gear and at the breakfast-finish the
technical team detected not even one drop of oil in the gearbox! The
plug was gone and a rubber seal was leaking. They filled it again and
cut a plug out of a piece of wood, which took more than 90 minutes in
all. It was our luck that this morning break was extended for the first
time in 41 years so we started only 3 minutes late (instead of one hour, which
would have been fatal for the remainder of our rally). Technical team,
thanks a lot!
We camped at the Blaka Watra site,
a marvellous spot in the forest where you can relax and cool down in the
fresh black jungle stream. After a tank stop
(Staatsolie is main sponsor and drove on and off with trucks) all cars
were ferried across the Suriname River on a sand pontoon.
This was followed by again heavy stretches of toiling in dusty sand.
JW had already caught a
800 m before the lunch finish we saw smoke coming from under the hood. We
stopped, waited a bit and added cooling fluid, but after another
60 m the whole thing was boiling again. Luckily we had just arrived in a
forest where we had to cross a stream. Now we had plenty of water to cool
the engine and fill the radiator. Coincidentally there was a car with some
press, driven by the managing director of Sol (Shell Suriname), who knew
exactly what to do. He
nursed our car so we could drive on and arrived with a margin of only 1
minute at the lunch-finish (29 minutes late while we were allowed 30 minutes).
The technical team rushed forward again and Kenneth immediately checked the
whole system. We were not the only car with cooling problems, he told us,
but after a thorough examination we could move on.
In the afternoon we encountered lots of dusty sand again, but the car held
up and we only lost a couple of minutes in addition to the 29 minutes of the
morning stretch. At the finish you are allowed to be 60 minutes late so we
felt we were okay. Until we arrived in a traffic jam on a narrow forest
trail only 700 m before the finish. A car was tilting over in a deep hole of
an uprooted tree
and two(!) cars auto’s struggled for a long time to pull it out. In the end
we finished with a margin of only 4 minutes!