Hardcore Off-Road Heaven – otherwise known as the “Rainforest Challenge of Malaysia”

The 18th edition of the Rainforest Challenge of Malaysia has just taken place in Southeast Asia. Known simply as the RFC, it is purposely held late November amidst the height of the torrential monsoon rains that lash the Malaysian peninsular; no easy ride here!

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Within this edition, teams from Malaysia won Overall Champion and First Runner-up, while a crew from Vladivostok in Russia also made the podium as Second Runner-up, no such thing as third place in the RFC! Strong teams from Poland, China and Australia were also amongst the individual prize-winners for “2000-3000cc vehicles”, ‘over 3,000cc vehicles’, specialised PTO (Power Take Off) & electric winch categories, and even competitive ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles).

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Yes, this was the ‘mother event’, but selection events had been taking place throughout 2015 across the world. Entitled the “RFC Global Series”, it’s a fitting title as over the years these challenge events to ensure selection of the ‘best of the best’, have been held in Bulgaria, Russia, UK, India, Australia, Vietnam, Thailand, Italy, China and so many more continents, countries and regions that I should remember, but quite literally I have forgotten … and I’m supposed to be the official United Kingdom representative for the RFC!!! Poor show on my part I realise, but my memory banks have never been that extensive, such is life. Better I let the RFC’s founder Luis J. A Wee explain further, this being the introduction Luis penned for the RFC website:-

Welcome to the Rainforest Challenge (RFC). I am sure that by surfing this website, you are an adventurer at heart, with a love for the great outdoor lifestyle.

The RFC is a sports/adventure tourism event, first launched in Malaysia on 23 Nov 1997 (and as the sole journalist representing the British Media, I’m proud to say “I WAS THERE!!!”  Tom Mc) and since then it has attracted participants and media from around the world. It is a tough event for 4×4 enthusiasts who dream of taking on a jungle adventure with all its hardship, endurance and extremities. The sweat, the mud, the rain soaked jungle, the humidity, the insects, the creatures of the night, the fellowship of men/women, the teamwork, the camaraderie, swollen, muddy rivers and monsoon are all there for you to experience.

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THE TWO SIDES OF RFC ORGANISER LUIS J. A. WEE  – PROMOTING THE RFC LIVE ON NATIONAL TV (SOMETHING THAT HAS TO BE DONE), AND WHERE HE’S HAPPIEST, ON THE GROUND DEEP IN THE JUNGLE.

If you wish to join us in this “mother event” RFC, positive mindset to enjoy everything that the jungle can throw at you plus a good sense of humour are essential. When the chips are down, when nothing seems to go right, you will need these qualities to go through and enjoy the event. Rain is king in the RFC. When it rains, it pours like there is no tomorrow.  Therefore, being panicky and negative won’t help, be cool. Remember that you are made of stronger stuff than you can ever imagine. By living out this adventure, we hope that you will discover or re-discover your sense of being.

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The jungle terrain is unlike any that you have ever faced before. Here, in only 2 kms of track, you will find numerous types of natural obstacles which would need hours to get through. Programmes and schedules are only guidelines once we start the ground operations. In the jungle, the tracks can change from easy to extreme hardcore within hours of heavy rain resulting in landslides, erosion and floods. Therefore, the constant changing of schedules are the norm but do not miss the daily briefings to get updated news. Sometimes the decisions taken may not be to your liking, but remember that we have to take care of the overall good for the convoy comprising of hundreds of participants and vehicles. Just adapt to the flow of happenings, go along and enjoy the event.

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The RFC is closely followed by the motoring, lifestyle, off-road and adventure media from around the world, this is one off-road event with the excellent opportunity for the visibility of your sponsors while you are enjoying the greatest time of your outdoor life. However, the RFC is not for the faint-hearted nor for the uninitiated. Only those with a passion for adventure with a get-up and get-going attitude and well-prepared hardware will be ready to enjoy the event. Are you one of us?

Since 2007, the RFC event format has also expanded to other parts of the world. There are now RFC events happening from Europe to Asia and within the next few years a truly global series is in the making. Even though these overseas RFC events have their own characteristics, all of them have the essence of the RFC. Our growth and expansion are made possible by all of you out there who dream of doing something unique, something different from the ordinary. We in the RFC hope to fulfill your dream and live an exciting lifestyle away from everydayness. Thanks to our legions of fans/aficionados from all over the world for believing in us.

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In the making of the RFC here in Malaysia and around the world, I am thankful for all the support, cooperation and services from sponsors, authorities, officials, media and everyone who has played a role directly and indirectly through the years. I am also very grateful to the many officials who have given their best efforts and stood the test of time with me in continuously making the RFC year after year. Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart, thanks for seeing the bigger picture of RFC with me. As we celebrate our 15th anniversary year, I would like to say congrats…..this is your glory as much as mine.

Life is an adventure. Live it to the full, don’t wait for tomorrow if you can make it today.

LUIS J.A WEE

How on earth could I possible follow that? Oh yes, I know! Recently, the Rainforest Challenge of Malaysia was voted amongst the World’s Top Ten Motorsport Events. I concur wholeheartedly. Far tougher than the Paris-Dakar Rally (now titled The Dakar, which incidentally is an event I also took part in – not as a journo though, but as a competitor), far tougher than the Ladoga Trophy (sadly I only took part in the Mini Ladoga Trophy – sob!!!), far tougher than … I think you get the picture. It’s not just the high level of competition and skill that truly sorts the men from the boys and the women from the girls, it’s the sheer exhaustion as the 100% humidity starts to take its toll to wear you down.

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As for the constant rain which saps your spirit, the slippery ‘ice-like’ underfoot conditions in the drenched mud and clay, the jungle bugs which take their toll at the dead of night, the leeches/scorpions/snakes/etc. which to be honest are more of an annoyance than an actual threat, or even the ‘fish head curry’ which the Chuck Wagon delights in serving Westerners, would I change any of it? Not a chance. The RFC is all about adventure, something this event has in bucket loads. In my book it should be in the TOP THREE of Motorsport Events, plus, and it’s a subtle but distinct difference, for me it is at the very pinnacle of adventure motorsport events. Yes of course the actual challenge is important, but in my book it’s the wonderful camaraderie that makes the RFC the best competition around. No doubt about that … you really can’t beat it for the overall experience! What’s a few mozzie bites compared to all the fun and the friends for life that you’ll make? It’s hardcore off-road heaven!!

Tom McGuigan (Editor of Europe 4×4 Mag)

 

P.S. Sorry, a very important point that I should have mentioned previously – it’s regarding those selection challenge events which take place annually on most continents. It should also be noted that any team can enter the RFC, regardless of their competitive prowess. Likewise, the event also allows individuals to ‘tag along’ during the RFC, providing the space is available in Officials or Media vehicles of course. Naturally these “Touring Adventurers” as they are known, have to pay for the privilege, but at least this ensures that for private teams or sole persons, you don’t have to be one of the premier teams in your country to be part of the RFC family. The alternative would be an elitist event which would mean a closed shop. The RFC is anything but that, it’s openness makes it one of friendliest events around, something that I just had to make clear.

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Tom McGuigan