|Rainforest Challenge Italy: Real Rainforest-Feeling in Italy with 32 Teams.|
After the big winter chill in Europe, the beginning of Spring saw the Italians kick-starting their off-road season with gusto and passion in Gradisca, north-east Italy facing the Adriatic Sea. Extreme off-road teams came not only from the length and breadth of the country but also from neighouring nations like Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and Corsica (France). The list included an All Ladies Team from Austria (Petra Schellander / Sonja Pippenbach) as well as young novice teams, all "new blood", which augurs well for the development of this adventure sports.
The top prize for champions is a ticket to Rainforest Challenge (RFC) which will take place this coming Dec (4-13) in Malaysia. The two categories fiercely in contention for this RFC Italian Selection are Modified 4x4 Class and the Proto-type (tubular) Class.
A total of 32 teams from the two categories were at the start line at the Prologue Special Stage held not far from the town on Friday. The weather was sunny and cool but the action was hot thrills and spills, a la Italia. Heading the organizing committee from GFI Alpe Adria Club was Ales Plascenar who was assisted by Patrick Silvestri, Paolo Paoletti, Titiana (President), Merino (VP) and marshals (comisars) from the club.
GFI is also the Guinness World Record holder for the biggest 4x4 gathering with 850 vehicles, held every year in the same town in Dec. With such experience, the opening day went smoothly to the delight of the authorities, who are also encouraged by spill-over effects on the local economy from this type of sports tourism.
"We use the undulating terrain here with some soggy and muddy grounds which are similar in difficulties we have experienced in Malaysia," commented Ales, the Event Director. "Every team here must learn how to tackle the special stage with off-road skills and a corresponding mindset to match, otherwise they will not last the entire 10 days of the RFC in Malaysia," he added.
For Patrick and Paolo, who also wore the badge of distinction of having lived through the wettest, longest and toughest RFC in 10 years, they were impeccable playing their supporting roles in the event. "Some of these teams are the most extreme you can find in Italy and the region. But even though they are well prepared, they got to be reminded that Mother Nature rules supreme in the RFC, so better come more than well prepared," they both smiled.
The rugged countryside of Gradisca was transformed into a 4x4 battle zone during the three days of action. The first day the novice teams suffered mechanical breakdowns due to their inexperience, which was expected from the "young guns," but it was a good show of passion and guts nevertheless.
The second and third days saw the competitor teams in the two classes battling it out in more extreme stages in the river, steep banks, v-gullies and more mud and water special stages which tested their driving and recovery skills to the limit even for the more experienced team. The proto-type class faced harsher test than the modified 4x4 class, but they all faced extreme winching exercises whichever way they chose.
After three exhausting but satisfying days, Piermarco Acerni / Bondi Nicola of Team ACERNI clinched the proto-type champion trophy in a Jeep Wrangler with 2310 points, while Marco Zanuttini / Ivaldi Calligaris in a Nissan Terrano II clinched the modified 4x4 champion trophy with 2,010 points. Both of these champion teams won their ticket to this year’s RFC in Dec.
For all the participating teams however, they were winners in their own rights too for going through such extreme test of willpower, machine-power and winch power but, most of all, coming up with a great sporting spirit to finish all the special stages.
The Italians have the passion, style, skills and well-crafted 4x4 hardware to match, it has been a "magnifico" weekend in Gradisca, an Italian job well done!
Overall Results: Modified 4x4 Class
1.Marco Zanuttini / Ivaldi Calligaris (Nissan Teranno II) – 2011 points
2.Alessio Marchiori / Claudio Casarini (Jeep Wrangler) – 1180 points
3.Emanuele Bono / Sergio Tavani (Toyota BJ 71) – 1063 points
Overall Results: Prototype Class
1.Piermarco Acerni / Nicola Bondi (Jeep Wrangler) – 2310 points
2.Mirko Spighi / Luca Caldini (Mercedez G) – 2005 points
3.Matteo Rivolti / Davide Cinquepalmi (Suzuki) 2000 points
For more pictures and informations please visit the official website at [ www.rainforest-challenge.com ].
2010/05/04 | 14:49 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/WEE/BARALDI