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Peter Taylor’s story from the Twilight Zone RFC 2005

by on Jan.08, 2008, under RFC Achives

I joined the x-men scout group for the journey into the rainforest jungles of Terengganu, a distance of some 70-80 kilometers of the toughest 4 wheel driving you could imagine. Add to this the daily monsoon rains that pelt down and turn the jungle tracks into an even more difficult terrain.

Our convoy of vehicles, mostly from the Landrover Owners Club of Kuala Lumpur, numbered 8 in total, fully equipped with supplies and spares for an extended stay in the jungle, to set up and run special stages (s/s) for the competition vehicles which would follow us.

After refueling and filling jerry cans in Kuala Berang, the last town and fuel point for us until we came back out, we set off into an area aptly called the “Predator” crossing the Sungai Ketiah (River Ketiah) and heading for the Hakka Junction. We encountered many obstacles and the going was slow, with the need to clear fallen trees and landslides caused by heavy rain that had fallen the preceding week. Many bridges had to be made to cross creeks that had very steep banks which had washed away and some of the slip areas also needed to be bridged. Simple log bridges were constructed and the vehicles very carefully guided across. It is quite an experience to drive a 4WD across these log bridges, as you can’t see your wheels on the logs you are driving on and you are totally reliant on your co-driver to guide you.

After the Hakka Junction we came into some very steep country with very long hill sections with deep ruts and endless hours of winching. You learn to look after your winch up here because without it you’re going nowhere! We eventually arrived at our first site for s/s called “Rocky River”, a very picturesque place with plenty of scope for a good competition stage. We set up camp and Martin Lewis and myself set about laying out the course.

This area, as we found out after pushing through the jungle, has a large population of leeches that attach themselves to you and are very difficult to remove. We had been on the move now for 2 days and nights and had to push on to our next s/s site, the famous Elephant Mud Hole” and the “Terminator Hill”.

After leaving marshals to run the Rocky River s/s the remainder of the convoy pressed on into the Elephant Mud Hole. S/s were set up and this area became home for the rest of the week. The area had not been used for 5 years and tracks were very overgrown and had changed so much. I had been to this area many times before and could hardly believe how it had been changed by floodwaters etc. It was now even tougher than before and as someone said “Welcome to hell” was a very true statement to make. Many vehicles were to suffer mechanical problems from broken diffs, broken CV joints and half shafts. Both competition vehicles and support vehicles had these problems and with that came a lot of sleepless nights repairing these vehicles.

The competition came from 21 different countries, from China to Mexico and everywhere in between. The camaraderie and co-operation between these teams was something to see as they helped one another with repairs etc. Very good vehicle preparation, combined with some excellent driving and recovery skills saw some great times achieved in the s/s. They worked together in the transport sections and many times passed onto us marshals that they really enjoyed the s/s and the transport stages and that they had traveled long distances to be part of this great event.

As the competition vehicles completed these special stages, they then moved on to another competition area at Camp Helipad. However due to the very tough transport stages some s/s had to be cancelled to allow competitors time to make it to the finish area in time for the closing and prize giving ceremony.

The x-men did not make it out to the ceremony and it was a further 2 days before any of us would make it out of the jungle, bringing along disabled vehicles. A lot of winching was needed and in these areas both the Warn electric and PTO winches worked tirelessly to pull us through.

A great trip, the Twilight Zone at the Rainforest Challenge has once again proved to be the toughest jungle event in the worlds.

RFC

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