By Rob Styles
What comes to your mind once you hear about “Rallye Bandama”? And what really inspires you when hearing the name Moriféré Soumaoro?
Well,…..the 46th edition of Rallye Bandama is back once again, in Ivory Coast where it staged year to year in the city of Yamoussoukro. Yamoussoukro is one of the two political capitals and administrative capital of IvoryCoast and … Located approximately 250 kilometers north-west of Capital Abidjan.
Rallye Bandama It’s Among the oldest rally events on the African continent if not the world, and once had big names participating in it, the likes of Walter Rohir, Guy Fréquelin Co-driven by Jean Todt the current FIA President and the Famous Michelle Mouton’s accusation story of swapping rally car mid-stage take place in Badama Rally among others.
The Bandama rally counts as the season opener of FIA African Rally Championship[ARC] round one.
Once we mention Moriféré Soumaoro, automatically “Bandama” frase will flush into your mind if you have been following ARC events or the entire Ivory Coast national rally championship since 1997.
Soumaoro made his rallying debut in 1997 in a Peugeot 205 GTI, He also drove brands like Toyota corolla GTI between 1999 and 2001 on the tracks of the Ivory Coast. At last, he settled with Mitsubishi Lancer Evo.
He kept on upgrading in the brand of Mitsubishi cars from evolution VI to evolution X. The legend won his maiden National Rally championship in 2007, and never looked back to make it a treble when he won again in 2008 and 2009 though later took 2012 to take the tally to four championships.
In his career, he won four “Rallye Bandama” editions, in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2017.
Hapa-Sport is taking a moment of silence to celebrate the life of the legendary driver of team foul’gas “Soumobile”, as was most known since he’s no more but still with the fraternity in spirit.
R.I.P Souma getting ready for Bandama rally 2019
Soumaoro lost the fight to his life in 2019 during corono of cocody rally sitting in a chair for a break while watching his daughter Aïssata Soumaoro who had made her debut on that day which was always his dream to see her driving, he went silent before his colleagues became suspicious something was wrong with him.
Putting him on the ambulance to the hospital, he was pronounced dead on arrival. Souma or “the storm chaser” will be watching the 46th edition of Rallye Bandama in the spirit come 21 – 23rd February. The question is can Aïssata the daughter walk in the footsteps of her legendary dad? Probably no doubt, Aïssata Soumaoro will start the 46th edition of Bandama rally in a Peugeot 206 co-driven by another lady Mollon Elodie.
Aïssata is looking forward to finishing the event and once she finishes, it will be an achievement and she can’t wait to fly the little Peugeot according to Freddie Cromwell’s statement.
Hapa-Sport says R.I.P champion and all the best Aïssata Soumaoro.
Credit to Pat Valle, Freddie Cromwell and Jean kouakou Landry kaunan