Con­di­tions could hardly have been worse (or should that be bet­ter?) for the Grand Fi­nal of the lat­est Rain For­est Chal­lenge in Malaysia late last year.


Sim­ply put, the story of the Grand Fi­nal was that of a bru­tal strug­gle for 24 hours, with non-stop winch­ing from day into night, twists and turns in ex­treme soggy ter­rain, suck­ing man and ma­chine like quick­sand only to be fol­lowed by pun­ish­ing up­hill upon up­hill with 70 de­grees gra­di­ent. Be pre­pared for “any­thing goes” is how RFC founder Luis J. A. Wee said at the brief­ing both in Da: Men mall in Kuala Lumpur ( 23 Nov) and at Swiss Gar­den ho­tel ( 24 Nov) and he was not kid­ding. Even be­fore the event started, scru­ti­neer­ing at the Da: Men mall was in­ter­rupted by heavy showers and thun­der­storms, the har­bin­ger of the an­nual mon­soon sea­son.

Kuala Lumpur start

There was a brief ‘ lull be­fore the storm’ for the of­fi­cial start at Lake Ti­ti­wanga in Kuala Lumpur, the cap­i­tal city of Malaysia. But the rains soon came to test the multi­na­tional field made up of na­tion­als from Rus­sia, Colom­bia, Ecuador, China, the Philip­pines, Brunei, Sri Lanka, Poland, In­dia, Viet­nam, Ge­or­gia, Be­larus, Italy, Bul­garia, Czech Rep, Thai­land, In­done­sia and host na­tion Malaysia. In fact, from Kuala Lumpur to Swiss Gar­den ho­tel, Kuantan, con­tin­u­ous thun­der­storms and heavy to light in­ter­mit­tent showers were a con­stant for the next few days...

Dra­matic Start to Pro­logue

The eight Spe­cial Stages ( SS) at the Pro­logue blasted off, the wet con­di­tions adding to the level of dif­fi­culty and re­sult­ing in some dra­matic flips and over­turns. How­ever, nei­ther the rains nor ground con­di­tions ham­pered the fight­ing spirit of the 40 race teams en­tered. In the 10- day event like the RFC with many SS along the way, any­thing can hap­pen to up­set the over­all stand­ings. Thus, for ev­ery­one, it was fast, fu­ri­ous and tak­ing as many points as pos­si­ble as early as pos­si­ble.

From 40 to 30

The re­lent­less rain and tough con­di­tions took their toll with 10 of the orig­i­nal teams out early on, some due to wear and tear, oth­ers with me­chan­i­cal fail­ure. How­ever, for the top five, they still main­tained their lead over the rest. Team 119 and 104 were neck to neck in the race to claim the crown.

En­try to the Twi­light Zone

By the night of 30 Nov, the re­main­ing teams were re­grouped at Se­lan­car Dua, in the dis­trict of Rompin and the en­try to the famed Twi­light Zone ( TZ) was de­layed so ev­ery­one could catch up and also due to the heavy down­pours. Well- named and def­i­nitely not for the faint- hearted, the TZ was the ul­ti­mate sec­tor of RFC 2017 where team­work meant ev­ery­thing if you wanted to score 200 points.

Slow go­ing

Each group had its own sto­ries of high ad­ven­ture to tell as they got out of the TZ. In fact the last group of sweeper crew and event HQ of­fi­cials did not reach the clos­ing cer­e­mony of 4 Dec night at all. That was one third of the con­voy!

Top Five Rules

Top Five com­pris­ing of teams 119, 104, 117, 107 and 105 main­tained their grip for top guns of RFC 2017 in the 26 SS and the TZ. For the rest of the 19 teams which com­pleted the race, it was an ex­tra­or­di­nary feat to fin­ish this tough­est ever RFC with the tough­est Twi­light Zone ever!

Ac­co­lades to RFC Crew

The roll of honours also goes to the un­sung he­roes of RFC crew from var­i­ous divisions run­ning the Nov/ Dec 2017 event. “They gave their hearts and souls for the mak­ing of this year’s RFC, come rain or high wa­ter, mud in­clud­ing a very tough TZ,” said Thomas Foo, the Event Di­rec­tor.

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