Kiwi power & Russian might returning to Malaysia for RFC 09’

Published on August 25th, 2009

It is interesting to note that the Kiwis of New Zealand and the cold as ice Russians were the new comers to last year’s challenging Rainforest Challenge (RFC), that was held in the east coast state of Terengganu. They were tough and willing competitors who not only soaked in the rain, managed to cope with the heat and humidity remarkably well, but they were also able to preserve their hardware to last the full ten grueling and trying days of adventure competition.

“The unfinished route did not deter us from coming back,” said Geoff Gregory and Peter Skilton, the two friendly Kiwi’s who together with the rest, did not manage to complete the elusive Twilight Zone of Hulu Terengganu, to face-off with what was supposed to be the main attraction and ultimate challenge of the RFC, the ‘Terminator’ in 2008. “We thoroughly enjoyed the four-wheeling and made lots of friends in the event,” they happily added.

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Both of them were pleasantly surprised at how well their battle scarred Isuzu Bighorn survived the ordeal, plus the fact that they did not need any of the spares that they had taken into the jungle to keep their Bighorn running during the competition. The only problems they had vehicle-wise, was getting caught in a tree, damaging the door, and breaking a side window; which happened because of a wiring short-circuit.

Apart from that, they were among the very few from the competition vehicles that did the round trip of Kuala Lumpur-Kuala Terengganu, covering a distance of over 700km.

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That goes to show how well they had maintained their 4×4 rig during the rough and tumble of the RFC, including going into the first part of the dreaded Twilight Zone. When it came to making a choice of whether to traverse through easy or rather daunting hard tracks, without blinking an eyelid, these tough Kiwi adventurers and seasoned offroad competitors decided on the tough option; after all, that’s what they were here for in the first place anyway.

Coming from the now infamous J.R.R Tolkien inspired “Lords of the Rings” country, where the word adventure is sacred and only used for those who are truly worthy, it comes as no surprise really that the Kiwi’s were able to survive and see through the challenges and obstacles of RFC ’08. After experiencing and learning from last year’s RFC, the Kiwi’s are now ready to take on this year’s RFC, “By the Rivers of Babylon”.

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“Another round of surviving what Mother Nature can throw at us. Well, bring it on,” Geoff proudly exclaimed while smiling.

As for the Russians, they are coming back not as new comers, but as a force to be reckoned with. From taking part in last year’s RFC in two fully equipped 4×4’s, this year’s coming RFC will see the Russians participating in not two, but four 4×4 rigs (2 Toyota Landcruisers, 1 Nissan Patrol and 1 Toyota Hilux Surf), as well as the two ATV’s that caught almost everyone’s eye during last year’s RFC. Now that’s a total of 6 equipped 4×4 vehicles made of tough hardware, accompanied by 10 brave and willing Russian adventurers.

“Last year was an appetizer for us,” said Andrey Kudarkov, the President of XTrack Off-Road from Vladivostok, Russia. They already set a record for Russia by shipping in two 4x4s last year, a feat or task which has never been done before by any Russian participant. This time, Andrey will set another record by bringing about the biggest presence of Russian might ever in the 12-year history of the RFC.

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The Russian Far East is an extreme region where the toughest of the tough come from. They have gone off-roading in the bogs, swamps, forests and in frozen, largely uncharted Siberia, weathering all kinds of extreme conditions, prior to last year however, never in a tropical jungle.

“We loved every minute of our experience during last year’s RFC. It must be admitted that the RFC is a totally new ball game for us, where we can go off-road under extreme weather and conditions, get wet all day and night, but without getting frozen stiff,” he chuckled.

Yuri his co-driver  added, “Over here, you have so many different types of obstacles within a short distance, and of course, moving 2 km in 8 hours.”

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What’s with the return this year? “This is a unique adventure event, the ever-changing route conditions, the rain, the problems solving, the many nationalities together in one jungle – we want our other members to enjoy this experience with us, together. Well, we really enjoyed ourselves last year – that’s why we are coming back again, this year!,” Andrey said sternly with a firm smile.

Catch the thrills and spills of the RFC 09’ in Johor Bahru on the 5th & 6th of Dec during the ‘Big Bang Carnival Opening Ceremony’ and ‘Prologue Special Stages’ or catch these extraordinary 4×4 adventurers in Kuala Lumpur from the 1st to 3rd of Dec.

For more information and pictures, check out RFC’s website www.rainforest-challenge.com or email ’em at [email protected]

Text: Luis J.A.Wee  & Steel Charger

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