English Version: Lius J.A.Wee
Thai Version: Charnchai Petchin
Thank You Photos: PM , DIRA & RFC FRIENDS & RFC
RFC GRAND FINAL 2018!
ANYTHING GOES. FROM LONGEST ROUTE TO THE LOST WORLD @ RFC GRAND FINAL 2018!
The Worlds Top Ten Toughest Motor Races
The Rainforest Challenge (RFC), among the top 10 of the worlds toughest off-road motor racing events, once again served as the Grand Finale for the RFC Global Series (RFCGS) which is a worldwide off-road circuit spanning 22 nations with 45 events.
First Time in the Sultanate of Kelantan
2018 edition was also the 23rd Rainforest Challenge (RFC) which took place for the first time in Kelantan (north-east of peninsula Malaysia), a state which faces the wrath of the monsoon annually.
Record Breaking Year
What a record year this has been. Consider these points: The longest and continuous off-road sector in the history of RFC achieved (300km). Most number of Special Stages (32 SS) ever held. The event took 12 days to complete! Biggest formation of the word: RFC in Tumpat. Two Twilight Zones! Deepest aborigines settlement reached (Pos Gob aka The Lost World). A first-time back to basics jungle awards ceremony with the people of the jungle. Most difficult exit to civilisation on 4 Dec. Mother Nature was kind the monsoon rains came, but moderately during the event days. If not, some of the convoy would still be in the jungle! Police air, ground, communications and security fully deployed during RFC days.
Two Types of Overall Champions
For the first time this year, there are two overall champions, one in the Prototype and the other in the Modified Production. However, in whatever category, nothing comes easy for man and machines, they have to face whatever mother nature can throw at them, thus, they have to be prepared for anything goes!
Not Called the Rainforest Challenge for Nothing!
Of course, all of the above is not surprising. This event is not called the Rainforest Challenge (RFC) of Malaysia 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. Thats why we say that to be at the starting line, you are already a winner, to complete the event you are extraordinary.
12 instead of 10 days
RFC Grand Final 2018 was officially launched at Ibis KLCC hotel by the Right Honourable Minister of Federal Territories on 22 Nov. The route took the participants in 150 vehicles from Kota Bahru to Tumpat on 24 Nov and then to Tanah Merah, Kuala Krai and into the deepest jungle of south Kelantan and ending the event at Gua Musang on 4 Dec, a total of 12 days (instead of the usual 10 days of RFC). Due to the long off-road sections beyond reach of towns or villages, all race and support vehicles had the extra challenge to carry enough fuel from day three to end of the event.
The Bravest of the Land Daredevils
The competition stages of the race were aptly named Predator, Terminator, and Twilight Zone which reflected the progressive difficulty as the days progressed for the 300 participants (racers, support crew, officials & media members) from 30 nations including Russia, Czech Republic, the Philippines, Mongolia, China, Korea, USA, Poland, Indonesia, Thailand, Ukraine and Ecuador. The obstacles included navigating the endless steep downhills and uphills, crossing narrow log bridges, driving across swamps, maintaining control on treacherous slippery terrain and crossing the mighty rivers at Bering in the interior.
Longest Transport Stage
Transport stage this year was long and arduous journey out of civilisation for 8 out of the 12 days for all race and support crew. Add in the humidity, the rain, the numerous natural obstacles from the jungle and the punishing terrain, all these can sap the energy of the toughest of man and machine. However, the camaraderie of everyone was high as they struggled to the finish line. For the race teams, the challenge was doubly tough as they have to overcome both the transport and special stages (SS) too! Not for the faint hearted!
The Jungle Terrain
The jungle terrain is unlike any that you have ever faced before. Here, in only 2 kms of track, you will find numerous types of natural obstacles which would need hours to get through. Programmes and schedules are only guidelines once we start the ground operations. In the jungle, the tracks can change from easy to extreme hardcore within hours of heavy rain resulting in landslides, erosion and floods, said Luis J.A. Wee, Founder & Creator of the Rainforest Challenge & RFC Global Series.
Tight Race to the Finish Line
For the race teams, the fight for 4x4-supremacy was fast, tight and furious across mud, water, rocks and undulating terrain, at times with monsoon rains. It was also the closest fight to the finish for the top 5 teams. Only the last day was the decider of who will claim the championship crown for Prototype and Modified Production categories respectively.
Back to Basics Awards Night
For all those who reached Pos Gob on 1 Dec, it was an experience to touch base with the people of the jungle from the deepest aborigines settlement in Kelantan also known as the Lost World. The awards ceremony was held in the jungle, for the first time in the history of RFC. It was a real back to basics ceremony with the jungle beat. That night was also a crowning glory for Team 104 (Russia) achieving 3 times champion (prototype) and for Team 117 (Malaysia) declared 6 times champion (modified production).
The Great Escape
However, this was not the end yet. By 4 Dec, it was transport stage out of the jungle to Gua Musang town made more difficult by the monsoon showers. This getting out to civilisation turned out to be the toughest ever for most of the convoy lasting from 24 to 41 hours. It was more like a great escape to get out of the rain. The last group of sweeper, chuckwagon, medic and crew made it out only on 5 Dec at 5pm. By that time, the monsoon rain had come in full force.
Thus, at the time of the appreciation dinner held in honour of RFC hosted by KESEDAR (South Kelantan Development Authority which is part of the Ministry of Rural Development) in Gua Musang on 4 Dec night, only one quarter of the convoy was present. However, the mood of jubilation for those who made it out was at all time high for completing this 23rd event of the Rainforest Challenge, cheered on by the 4x4 Kelantan clubs and the President of KESEDAR himself.
All in, another Rainforest Challenge, to be remembered, powered by Petron (fuel & engine oil partner).