As you might already know, we’ve sent our most intrepid and expendable photo journalist Ernesto Araiza into the dripping depths of the Malaysian rainforest to follow the legendary Rainforest Challenge and when* he gets back out of the jungle in a weeks time we’ll have the full report. But while we’re waiting to see if he survives, here’s a little info on what the RFC is.
You might not have heard of it but in Asia it’s a big event that attracts a large international contingent and has high-level government level support. Now in its 17th year, it’s an elder statesman of extreme off-road challenges and has been run for all that time by the venerable Mr. Luis Wee, a nice guy who sends people into such harsh conditions with a beaming smile.
The format is quite a lot different from what we’re used to as well, a prologue of holes dug out with a JCB and stacks of rocks provide the thrills and spills for the prologue and points are awarded for passing these short, technical sections… but with 100, 95, 90 etc it means that it’s not just the consistent that do well, it’s the consistently fast, which is why everything is maximum attack all the time.
And then off into the jungle. Deep inside, where Ernesto is now. In the middle of monsoon season. The word ‘wet’ just doesn’t get close to describing the insane levels of humidity. Imagine going to the gym in a sauna… so wet that one year they had to airlift all the cars out by helicopter because the whole region was flooded. This is where Ernesto is spending his ‘holiday’!
The Special Sections in the jungle are laid out over natural terrain using steep slopes, rivers and the cloying mud to test driver’s skills and vehicle’s capabilities. But a lot of places are too tough to drive and here the locals have created something quite insane to cope. They call it the God Winch, but I think it is something knocked up in the Dark Lord’s workshop instead. A PTO winch that passes through a Suzuki differential before the drum makes for insanely fast winching.
But think that short sections don’t sound too hard? How about the Twilight Zone? Last year it was 20km long… and had a 48 hour time limit! Hacking through virgin jungle so dense that you can’t see the sun with machetes, sleeping in the rain and mud, dragging cars up hills it was hard enough to walk up…