Malaysian team, hot favourite to take RFC title in Sanya 4WD challenge
This sports tourism event follows the same format as the Rainforest
Challenge (RFC) – the world’s most internationally represented 4×4 event.
This coming 18-24 August, the heat is on, for 4×4 action in Hainan Island, the biggest off-road extreme challenge of its kind in China. More than 500 participants, teams and media from over 15 countries will converge in Sanya, China’s southernmost city. The Malaysian teams will set the record as the biggest foreign contingent this year.
Hainan Island already has a reputable tourism status as it is also known as the Hawaii of China, the Chinese Riviera and its hosting of the Miss World Beauty Pageant further reinforces its position as the tropical paradise of China.
But this time, the island has another type of unique promotion, in the form of extreme off-road sports event, that is, the 2nd China-Sanya International Rainforest Challenge (CIRFC). This sports tourism event follows the same format as the Rainforest Challenge (RFC) – the world’s most internationally represented 4×4 event.
“We call it the Summer RFC,” said Luis J.A.Wee, the Founder/Creator of the RFC, “because it takes place in August and apart from its tourism potential, it’s a good time to test man, machine, endurance and preparation before Dec, where RFC will take place in Malayisa.”
Nine Malaysian teams from both the peninsula Malaysia and Sabah / Sarawak will be at the starting line on 18 Aug in Sanya. Among them will be Team Pro-Turbo Trading, from Sarawak comprising of three vehicles. They are the first to ship their hardware from Kuching to Haikou. This included the CIRFC current champion team of Chai Mui Shin / Jong Ai Loong in their modified Suzuki.
“Last year, we were the only Malaysian team, but this time, with more competition from my fellow compatriots, Chinese and other overseas teams, it will be a great time to test our driving and recovery skills with the best teams around the region,” commented Mui Shin.
The others from Sarawak are Jong Jack Koh, Liew Yun Song, Lai Nyuk Shin and Chai Yu Kion in a Daihatsu Rocky and Toyota Land Cruiser. This time, a group of supporters led by Chai Yew Foo will also be in Sanya to cheer them especially during the Prologue Special Stages on 18 & 19 August. Sarawak, the Land of Hornbills will be ready not only for battle, but for the exchange of culture, friendship and promotion of tourism.
Sabah, another East Malaysian state is also known as the Land Below the Wind, will send two-well equipped Toyotas BJ40 and FJ43 which are purpose built and reinforced at Kinaway of Kota Kinabalu. The team comprising of Lo Fui Min / Wong Chee Pin and Azrey Ramlee / Jaslihan Salleh Haneh have both experience and hardware to match. They are not “light-weight” contenders and they will give the rest a good fight for sure.
From West Malaysia, they will be fighting fit for the battle to come. Comprising of tough teams from Melaka 4×4 Motorsports and Johor their fighting machines comprise of Suzuki SJ70, Jeep CJ6 and Daihatsu Rocky. These are battle proven teams in the RFC and include the 3-time RFC champion of Team 117, the formidable Tan Eng Joo / Lee Yit Kiang. The others are Mervyn Lim Wei Shiong / Lee Beng Loon (First Runner Up in RFC 09), Tee Hong Kiat / Lee Beng Khoon and Too Chai Beng / Wong Yuen Teck.
Even though Team 117 will be the one to watch, the current CIRFC champion from Sarawak will not be easy to dislodge in Sanya. There will be plenty of thrills, spills and action for sure, and nobody is assured of overall victory until the final day. This time, the organizers have extended the event days to 7 days instead of 5 to give the teams plenty of time for Special Stages. And with experience from last year, RFC International will bring additional official crew to assist the Chinese committee to make sure it will be a tough 4×4 Battle of China deserving the reputation of RFC.
In fact all the Malaysian teams will be a force to be reckoned with and the most likely to be in the Top 1 to 3. Thus, Malaysia is heading for records in Sanya – for biggest contingent and possibly the champion title too.
However, there will still be plenty of contenders from the Chinese especially from the well prepared Guangzhou and Hong Kong teams and also from the other overseas team too. Among them will also be RFC seasoned team of Markus Oswald (Austrian) and Bret Macnamara (Australian) combination driving their modified Jeep Cheerokee.
”We will give the Malaysians a tough time and also we have a secret weapon up our sleeves too,” smiled Markus, “See you in Sanya then.” They will also be shipping their modified Jeep Cheerokee along with the Malaysians from Port Kelang to Haikou.
And also not forgetting Team Land Rover Philippines of Typhon Larry, who last year were the only other foreign team which brought their vehicle over to Sanya. “It will be the Land Rover Defender 90 which we used in RFC Malaysia in 2009, we know better what to do and when to do it,” commented Robby Consunji, the contingent leader, “and of course, we shall not let anyone come in our way. So, let the hunt begins.”
Among the foreign contingent will be Team Sri Lanka (Sean Hameed/Warner Adrian Oorloff) and Ladies Team Indonesia (Paramitha Paat). Both teams will be using local Chinese 4×4 vehicles for the event. Even though they will not be in the top 3, but it will be a thrill to watch them tackle the Special Stages. Sean, with his vast experience has lots of ways to get out of any obstacle, while Paramitha is a Lady of Steel, very exciting to watch how she tackles the rough and tumble of this macho off-road sport.
For the rest of the Chinese entries, it will be a good time to see and learn at first hand how the seasoned international teams take on the Special Stages. They will also learn how the modifications are done on the super 4×4 machines. The place is Sanya, the time is this 18-24 August, which should not be missed by all Chinese 4×4 enthusiasts. The foreign supporters and fans too will be converging on Sanya, all together, it will be a great time for tourism spending in Hainan.
Last, but not least, the event will also be invaded by the foreign media, among them will be journalists from Denmark, Germany, Italy, France, Hungary, Czech Republic, Russia, UK, Turkey, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and USA. The RFC is a closely watched event in the 4×4 world and this China-Sanya International Rainforest Challenge also gets the full attention, being the Summer RFC.
This coming August, its gonna be hot thrills and spills in Sanya. With the declaration of Hainan as the tourism island of China from this year, the Sanya Organizing Committee is gearing up even more to make this 2nd edition the most happening off-road sports tourism event of China.
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