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Rainforest Challenge Italy: Interview with Patrick Silvestri from the Orga





Remember the big deluge of Rainforest Challenge (RFC) 2007 when the bravest of the land off-road daredevils went in by land and came out by boats? That was the longest, wettest and toughest RFC in a decade. Among the international teams caught up in the flood was the Italian team comprising of Patrick Silvestri and his co-driver Paolo Paoletti.

We had the chance to catch up with both as they are also part of the organizing committee of RFC European Selection, held recently in March this year. The Italians are passionate when it comes to cars, food and football, among others.

Patrick epitomizes that special breed of Italian craftsmen passionate about his car, a 4x4. He has raised his machine from the "dead", which was left stranded and damaged by the floods to give it a new lease of life. Here are some excerpts.

MR: Your vehicle was finally brought back to Italy in March of 2008, some three months after the event was over. It suffered the ravages from the monsoon flood.

Silvestri: Yes, and that’s why I have to rebuild it and took me two years to complete.

MR: Why spend so much time to build a 4x4?

P: Because it’s in my blood to see that my 4x4 machine is tip top, especially I have prepared it for the RFC, the ultimate adventure!

MR: How did it perform in the RFC, before the flood came?

Silvestri: We were doing well; Paolo and I did not take too much chance which might damage the car as we wanted to go into the Twilight Zone (TZ). It had enough power, traction and articulation to overcome many obstacles in the jungle and we were very pleased with it. But, we never expect such a big rain to come. Our 4x4 is not a boat…well, not yet.

MR: Tell us about the retreat from TZ when the rains came.

Silvestri: Everything was wet and damp, going downhill was extremely slippery. There was no time for error, one slip and down you go, which happened to one Polish team in a Range Rover which plunged into a ravine, but both they and their car were rescued. Everyone went very cautiously downhill, uphill and crossing the fast flowing rivers.

Everywhere it was like a war movie you know, of people struggling on foot, machines bogged down and continuously rain. Then we came to a big river crossing before the village using snatch straps at the rear and winching in front. That was something to remember for all time which you can watch on youtube put up by many teams. Anyway, we had an adventure of a lifetime, getting out of the rain.

MR: So, now you have rebuilt this machine and ready for action again?

Silvestri: Yes, of course, I am excited that after so many months of hardwork it’s alive again. We shall take it out after this interview. And other test runs in events in Europe.

MR: Before you do that, tell us something about this machine.

Silvestri: Well, it’s a Toyota BJ42 built in 1982 but I fitted it with a Toyota HDJ100, 4,200 cc turbo diesel with 204 hp. The gearbox and gear reducer: Toyota HDJ80. The front axle is a Toyota HDJ80, rear axle a modified Toyota HDJ61 and 2 blocks of 100% differential. I have removed the leaf springs and replaced with 4 coil springs shock absorbers (Ohlins). The front excursion is 102 cm and rear is 114 cm.

MR: What about the body?

Silvestri: Made of fiber glass by Weiss Design and modified with aluminum roof

MR: The winch?

Silvestri: Front is Toyota electric winch with PTO and rear is Toyota electric winch 9,000lb. The winch control is joystick fitted inside the car at the centre console.

MR: Roll bars and tyres?

Silvestri: Steel with 60mm diameter for roll bars and Crawler tyres (37 x 12.50R17) by BF Goodrich. Alloy wheels 8x17 – 12 off set of Mickey Thompson Classic Look.

MR: Well, congratulations for re-building another battle ready 4x4 Patrick; we would like to wish you and your co-driver all the best in 4x4 adventures to come, ciao.

More pictures and informations you could find at the official website [ www.rainforest-challenge.com ].

2011/04/15 | 12:07 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/WEE/BARALDI












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