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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: Convoy trapped, competitors retracking.

Two days ago the monsoon really started for the participants of the Rainforest Challenge. This is an intermediate update only as we are currently camping on a 3 meter wide jungle track that has turned in a small river. The water is going down the track underneath and between the camp beds.

Yesterday the RFC convoy parted. The competitors went into the Twilight Zone, the press and organization back outside. At least that was the plan. The rainfalls increased even more over Thursday and friday. The latest information from Friday afternoon is that the competitors are currently trying to go back to reach the rest of the convoy. The conditions inside the Twilight Zone are so bad that to our current knowledge only one car - namely the number 136 - was able to reach the first important checkpoint. Some rivers have risen to unpassable heights.

Water is also the reason why the rest of the RFC convoy is currently trapped in front of a river. Due to the heavy rainfalls the waterlevel has increased by up to 3 meters. The press and organization convoy was barely able to reach this point. One river had to be crossed that rose only in the two hours of the passing by more than 40 cms. The rest of the track up to the second now too high river was not too severe. Some small waterholes and a lot of muddy small hills were the main obstacles. Especially the wet hill tracks were unpassable without winching for cars with wrong tires and unsuitable car or driver skills.

In fact a few ill prepared cars were the reason why the travel out ended in a 24 hour winching ordeal. One Mitsubishi Pajero had street tires and no winch at all. The driver who chose to enter the jungle with it was permanently stuck on every single hill or muddy passage - and that unfortunately quite in front of the trophy convoy. A second almost equally unsuitable Pajero with a missing winch was travelling directly behind (!!!) him. Well meant advices to change this combination or place the cars at the end of the convoy where they could be rescued were denied by the two drivers due to reasons unknown to us - and most of the entire convoy.

The heroes of the convoy passage were definitely Daniele Borgonovo and Stefano Jarach from Italy with their modified Mitsubishi L200. The two Italians are driving as competitors in the RFC. When they tried to enter the Twilight Zone the organisation advised them that they would encounter a lot of problems because of the length of the car and the condition of the track. So the two chose to go back and drive with the organization and media convoy. This proved to be a very good choice as without them half of the convoy would probably still been sticking somewhere on the way on Friday noon. Already on the first river passing where the water rose so quickly Daniele and Stefano pulled eight cars out of the river. On the further way they overtook parts of the convoy and ended up behind the two street Pajeros. After whitnessing the drama from behind they overtook the cars and helped them crossing the hills. The winched both blocking vehicles and a third one more than 10 times over muddy hills.

In the end the convoy arrived so late at the second river that a passing is currently impossible. A crew swam across and has set up a steel cable to pass goods over the river. The water already went down by almost a meter today but again up to the old level after heavy rainfalls. Everyone is currently hoping for the best that the cars will be able to cross the river later in the evening or tomorrow. If the rain continues it might last days or even weeks until the waterlevels go down again. The smokers in the jungle track "camp" are already running short of smoking supplies in grave need of their favourite inhalement.

No further details are known about the competitors at the moment - apart from the cancellation of the Twilight Zone. They are trying to track back out of the Twilight Zone and reach the convoy on the same track they drove in. Still two more rivers have to be crossed by them to reach the currently blocking river. It is unknown if this will be possible. After the river where the convoy is currently camping still two more streams have to be passed on bridges. The organization scouts are currently fearing that at least one of these bridges also has been washed away. Everyone is well and there have been no injuries but as the situation is quite undetermined at the moment we cannot be sure when can transmit further information. We will update you at the latest again when the next safe campsite has been reached.

2007/12/07 I 00:10 CET I Editor: MR/JS

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