For those who are in Suriname now, the Savannah Rally starts on Friday evening, November 1st! Every year this is an event that rallysport enthusiasts look forward to, both locally and regionally. This year it will take place from November 1st until November 4th, 2019.
Waking up to the sound of various birds, breathing in the scent of the forest, and marveling at how the morning dew gives way under the rising sun. Looking forward to a day of searching and navigating through the beautiful landscapes of the savanna, to then spend the evening cooling down in a small creek while sipping on a cold beer; pure enjoyment.
“It’s a total package that motivates people to participate in the Savanne Rally year after year”, says Helmut Haukes, chairman of the Surinaamse Autorally Klub (SARK), with next to him honorary member Piem Reiziger. The rally is so famous that it was mentioned in the Dutch Playboy in 2010. “It all started in 1970 when the ferry across the Marowijne River started operating and a Cayenne-Suriname-rally was organized. The first Savanne Rally, led by Jos Fontaine, was held the year after that”, tells Reiziger.
After a long period of budget cuts, this year’s rally will once again run for four days instead of three, from the 1st until the 4th of November. “It has been held so often, that we put in a lot of effort to give a different twist to it every time”, says Haukes. “And although we have permission from the district commissioner, we always ask the people living in the areas that we drive through for their permission as well. They usually ask us to repair a bridge or fix a water pump, which we then do”, adds Reiziger.
Anywhere between 60 and 120 teams usually take part in the rally. “But we aim for about 80, because we have to oversee it all”, explains Haukes. The rally has grown from an event with small cars and participants armed with pen and paper to find the route, to a real challenge with 4WD cars equipped with GPS. “That’s why we try to keep the board mixed; the older members for their experience and the younger ones for their inventive ideas”, laughs Haukes.
Both gentlemen call attention to the more than one hundred volunteers who work hard to make sure that the rally runs smoothly. They also praise the sponsor Fernandes Autohandel, who has been making this event possible for fifteen years now.
This text was previously published in Sabaku No. 60, August-October 2019.
Text: Euritha Tjan A Way
Translation: Cassandra Gummels-Relyveld
Photos: Courtesy Surinaamse Autorally Klub (SARK)