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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: Great water games on Day 1 in Malaysia.

After the cancellation of the first third of the Rainforest Challenge 2007 the organizers had to come up with a spontaneous workaround to rearrange the planning. Before the teams will enter the Challenge┬┤s real tough part some special stages had been set up in the still manageable jungle.

The first of two special stages on Monday lead through a picturesque river in the middle of a jungle valley. For about one kilometer the participants had to drive through the river and the surrounding sand banks - no problem for the real trophy cars but a considerable challenge for the longer rally pickups. In the river several tracks over stony and partially deep passages had to be driven. In between mud and soft sand was the reason for several stuck cars. Especially tricky were large stones just below the water surface that could not be seen due to the muddy water.

The second stage was far shorter. Here the determining factor was the ability to climb a short but steep ascent at the beginning of the stage. After managing that the rest could be well driven in less than one minute. The problem with the ascent was mainly that no point was really suitable to attach a winch cable. The only opportunity was a large array of bamboo that the winching cars almost completely pulled out of the ground. One Suzuki even slowly rolled over over his front. The track could only be driven with a delay of more than 3 hours because a scouting vehicle of the organization found no way on the original planned route and had to be recovered several times. After building a bridge of several logs of wood the competitors were finally able to access the stage.

New participants could wonder why the Rainforest Challenge starts with mini stages. There is however a very good reason for that. Comparable to the prologue the organizers want to check the competitors┬┤ readiness for the real tough jungle by slowly increasing the difficulty.

Especially the water stage separated the participants very intensely. To give an impression: the fastest participant on a Toyota Landcruiser needed 40 seconds to complete the entire track, the slowest driver on a totally unsuited Mazda BT50 Pickup needed 48 minutes (!).

Actually in the middle of the track the Mazda driver caused a big show event and a lot of amusement for the spectators. After he and his car obviously failed to find a stage of offroad harmony together a suffering spectator offered to help driving the car out of the water "so that the event could continue". As a result the Malaysian driver totally lost his temper, jumped out of his car, took of his helmet and threw it into the water and started complaining. Only after almost 10 minutes he had calmed himself down enough again that he could continue driving the stage.

Again the local teams and one team from Hong-Kong showed great skill and a partially spectacular driving performance with their specially modified cars. With their prepared Jeeps and Toyotas they caused everyone to cheer and wonder how the driven stunt was anyhow possible. Most of those teams have custom built special winches with winching speeds of partially more than 40 km/h. One particular feature is that some cars can individually block single tires and perform incredible slides with loud pneumatic sounds. It is not surprising that those cars are expected to be among the RFC winners.

The Ssangyong Acyion team again was loved by everyone in the water special stage. The car is extremely long and not very high. The Ssangyong tried to compensate these disadvantages with sheer driving craziness. On one part of the river the car hit a small stone ramp with very high speed. As a result the car shortly went airborne with all four tires and landed in the water. The complex custom built protection under the car mostly remained on the stone ramp after that stunt. To everyones surprise the Ssangyong only got stuck once in the water stage. After a short winching part they were going with the usual full throttle again and completed the stage.

On Tuesday the trophy convoy will move on further into the jungle. After 12 kilometers more stages will be driven. On old logging paths the teams will move on. Even on these transport stages several rivers have to be crossed and steep hills have to be climbed. If there is rain the normally manageable tracks will turn into a slippery winching ordeal. After two more special stages the convoy will continue 5 kilometers more until the next camp is set up.

Currently there are no standings available.

2007/12/04 | 16:54 CET | Editor: MR/HS/JS

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