THE FIGHT TO THE FINISH!
From the Bravest of the Land Daredevils in 42 Special Stages of Rainforest Challenge Finale 2019.
The Fight for 4x4 Supremacy for Top Awards in Rainforest Challenge of Malaysia, the finale event of RFC Global Series (RFCGS) for 2019 was fought out intensely for 11 days from start to finish by 30 racing teams from three continents of Asia, Europe and South America.
Monsoon: Wettest Start
This year, the monsoon gave the participants the wettest start to RFC in 24 years! It was pouring heavily on 1 Dec at Panau Hill before the racing teams were unleashed into battles under the rain under the quagmire of mud.
Most Number of SS in 4 Major Battles
A record of 42 Special Stages (SS) were held during the 11-day race in 4 major battle stations at the Prologue SS (Panau Hill, Tanah Merah), Predator (Air Naga, Tanah Merah), Terminator (Istana Sangkut, Sg Rek, Kuala Krai) and finally at Gua Musang (RFCKESDEAR).
Not Called the Rainforest Challenge for Nothing!
The RFC is renowned as among the Top Ten Toughest Motor Races in the World. Its not called the Rainforest Challenge for nothing. With such reputation, just by completing the RFC gives any team the bragging rights to have achieved the pinnacle of 4x4 extreme off-road racing and counted into the ranks of RFC Global Series (RFCGS).
Bravest of the Land Daredevils
Therefore, to be at the starting line, you are already a winner; to finish the event, you are extraordinary. For these are the bravest of the land daredevils assembled from Asia to Europe and South America coming to test their test of 4x4 supremacy in driving and recovery skill.
Ground & Air Support
The Royal Malaysian Police forces were fully deployed for air and ground support including communications and overall security in this showcase off-road racing event of Malaysia.
Refreshing Stops at Petron stations
Part of the highlights of RFC is the refreshing stops with food and drinks at Petron fuel stations at Berlimbing and Laloh in support of the participants in their 150 vehicle convoy.
Three Types of Racing Categories
The Rainforest Challenge has R1 for prototypes, R2 for Modified Production and R3 for Standard. However, in whatever category, nothing comes easy for man and machines, they have to face the same SS and take on whatever Mother Nature can throw at them.
RFC Grand Final 2019 was officially launched at Ibis KLCC hotel in Kuala Lumpur by Tourism Malaysia on 29 Nov, a prelude to Visit Malaysia Year 2020. The route took the participants from Kuala Lumpur to the north-east state of Kelantan covering Kota Bahru, Tanah Merah, Kuala Krai and ending in a carnival at Gua Musang town (RFCKESEDAR). The first wave of the monsoon also hit these areas with heavy showers especially during the first 3 days making everyone and everything soaking wet and muddy.
Rolling out of GRV Hotle, Kota Bahru.
Wet, Wet, Wet start on Race day 1 Dec with continuous monsoon showers all the way from GRV hotel (Kota Bahru) flagging-off to Bukit Panau for the Prologue SS at Tanah Merah. Unabated rainfall with strong winds blowing from NE Monsoon. The intensity of the rain was just like the 2007, the year of the big flood.
Battles of Panau Hill (Prologue SS)
Anxiety was in the air, will the monsoon of RFC 2007 which swept everyone out of the race! However, for the racing teams, no time to think of that. In spite of the pouring rain, there was no stopping man and machine from completing the 10 SS on 1 and 2 Dec.
Test of 4x4 Supremacy
The RFC is a race to test the best in man and machines brought into the event. Its a test of driving & recovery techniques across multiple obstacles including using the right skills & strategy, articulation control, sense of judgement. To overcome all these, coordination between driver and co-driver will win the day. These are the daily routine of the racing teams during the 10 days of the extreme race.
Realm of the Water Dragon
After the exhausting battles at the Prologue SS, more action at the Predator of Air Naga (Water Dragon). All the leading teams from Russia, Malaysia, Ukraine, Sri Lanka, Brunei, Indonesia and Mongolia were in top form from first 4 days of racing. However, nothing is taken for granted yet until the last SS on 9
Dec. At the Predator, it was more splashing and recovery action here as this place is water country, not called the Water Dragon for nothing.
Get in, Get Out or Get Terminated.
By day 5, its into Terminator country to continue the fight for supremacy in undulating and rocky country with a roaring river (Rek River) flowing through it. If you are not careful, you will be terminated here from the race! Nothing is taken for granted here. This is the 3rd battle station, they dont want to be terminated before they reach the 4th battle zone at Gua Musang.
Istana Sangkut, host venue at Terminator
In spite of full scale 4x4 action and the fearsome roaring river image, the two days here (6 & 7 Dec) were compensated by a gracious host from Istana Sangkut resort owned by Ismail Manaf with many years of RFC experience; who provided culture and tradition for the participants after the SS.
The Fight to the Finish
Finally, by 7 Dec evening, all have safely reached the final battle zone at the post-logue SS called RFCKESEDAR at Gua Musang, a carnival and action time open for spectator viewing.
For the racing teams, this is their last fight to the finish line before the awards presentation. As it turned out, it was a great showtime in 4x4 action for the general public on 8 & 9 Dec.
The SS were hard and technical which took a heavy toll on man and machine but no let up in the teams fighting spirit to carry on.
Finally at SS 42, it was all joy and jubilation for completing the Rainforest Challenge Finale of 2019, the 24th edition of RFC Grand Final of Malaysia!
What about the monsoon?
Well, Mother Nature was kind enough for RFC. The rains showers were heavy in the beginning of the event, it turned to light rain in the middle; and only intermittent showers at the ending.
However, the 2nd wave of monsoon hit the East Coast states of Kelantan & Terengganu again, causing serious flooding. There was no repeat of the infamous RFC 2007 for the participants, if not, part of the convoy would still be trapped inside! Yes, indeed the heavier monsoon missed the RFC by just 7 days!
All in, another Rainforest Challenge to be remembered; powered by Petron, the fuel & engine oil partner of the event.
THANK YOU ALL PHOTOS OF DON SECO AND RFC FRIENDS.