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This is the single-news section of the marathonrally.com special of the Rainforest Challenge 2007, the hardest off-road trophy worldwide. To see all news please use the link under the article or navigate with the left main-navigation.

Rainforest 2007: Challenge started with the prologue

On the first of December the Rainforest Challenge 2007 was officially started. The day began with the so called "flag off" show start in the North of Terengganu. Several high officials and politicians and hundreds of spectators attended the ceremony. After that the rally convoy traveled approximately 40 km to the prologue area that was especially prepared for the competition stages.

A wide range of easy to unmanageable sections lay in front of the RFC participants. Holes and guts had been excavated and partially flooded by rain. The whole area had a quite muddy character as it had heavily rained until two days before the prologue. Several thousand spectators attended the event and dozens of merchants quickly set up their businesses to sell beverages and freshly cooked food.

Similar to other events the prologue was extended over two days with one well anticipated side effect to separate the well prepared drivers and vehicles from the lesser ones. Even though not officially announced in that way a selection makes a lot of sense to get an impression how the starter field will perform in the remote jungle locations far away from heavy machinery that was still used at the prologue to pull cars out of holes and long muddy passages.

However we had the impression that this plan was not quite working as anticipated. Several pilots and cars (often especially in the respective combination) who probably should be kept away from their vehicles and the jungle were never tired enough to enthusiastically driver their machinery with a merciless tortured engine 5 meters into every section - just to then wait for the rescue staff to pull them out again...

You can only imagine how these sometimes extensively modified cars will look like after several real jungle kilometers. Even more wondering is an apparent lack of driving skills of a few drivers. While slightly surprising some actions were quite amusing for the spectators such as drivers getting stuck on slight ascents on the way to their sections or one pilot who after a 20 minute ordeal to get his car pulled out of an hole forgot to use his break and just slowly rolled back into it again.

Totally unimpressed of the adventurous aspects of driving a Ssangyong Actyion Pickup into the jungle was naturally the Ssangyong works team. Even though the SUV has not been intended for that use the Ssangyong crew started into every section and gave their best. Even though only a few sections could be completed the experienced driver and copilot gave their best and managed even a couple of areas quite well were rougher vehicles failed. Even though the Ssangyong team will have no chance for a top placement they were loved by the spectators.

In some special stages it was a good choice for the participants to not start at all. Some sections were totally undrivable even for the best pilots and in one section until the early afternoon no one made it further than the Australian team of David Metcalfe and Lance Gillies who just got halfway through the ordeal. The penalty points for a no-start or a did-not-finish are quite similar anyhow and will have no big effect on the final standings.

On Sunday the second part of the prologue will be driven. On the early afternoon the convoy will then depart for the long awaited jungle followed by a camp in the evening. So the real jungle adventure is about to start on Monday for everyone.

2007/12/03 | 01:23 CET | Editor: MR/HS/JS

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