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Old 2nd November 2012, 17:29   #1
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Default Taprobana 4x4 Challenge 2012 (Rain Forest Challenge’ Srilanka)

Taprobana 4x4 Challenge 2012 (Rain Forest Challenge' Sri Lanka)

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The Taprobana 4x4 Challenge started in 2004, is a hardcore 4x4 Challenge that ranks among the foremost in Asia. From 2011 it became part of Global Rain Forest challenge series; since then competitors from Malaysia and Australia have been taking part in this event along with the local competitors.
It was a pleasure to be there to witness the event live and I enjoyed every moment of it. The legendary Sri Lankan hospitality, interactions with international competitors and marshals from RFC, Malaysia, all made it an event to cherish. Thanks to Sean Hameed, Event Director, T4X4C-2012 and his colleagues in the FWDC, Sri Lanka for providing me this opportunity.
T4X4C is a 5-day hardcore event that begins with a Prolog and continues in to the jungle stages spanning over the next 4 days. Unfortunately the 4th day’s SSs this year were cancelled due to a last minute change in policy approvals.

The T4X4C is where one can expect heavy rain, mud, slush, mud holes, logs, stumps(yes, they can do some serious damage to tyres), river crossing, naturally formed V-gulleys.

To describe the standards of competition, it would indeed be a great achievement for a competitor if he manages to complete all the SSs in the event without a single DNF. The SSs were designed by professionals like Sean Hameed & Rushiran Silva, and RFC Marshals like Toh Jacky Sin Ming who have decades of experience in this adventure sport.

One needs immense driving skills, an able co-driver, a good strategy and proven winching techniques to survive these SSs. This joyous experience will definitely give every off-roader the satisfaction and fulfilment of having “been there and done that”.

The event began with a flag off by RFC Chief- Luis J A Wee, from the Independent square in Colombo on 19th Oct . On 20th Oct , the Prolog was held at the Sappers 4×4 Gympo track of the Sri Lanka School of Military Engineering (SLSME),Embilipitiya. This manmade track was designed by military engineers with the help of off-road experts to simulate extreme offroad conditions. The Prolog also included separate competitions for standard and standard-modified class vehicles to encourage participation from all alike.



On 21st we proceeded to the Jungles of Monaragala. We reached campsite at night, after a long and arduous transport stage through the rivers and thick foliage. It was a challenging route into the jungle and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. Though unfortunately I was unable to click pictures, the memories remain etched in my heart forever.
It would be unfair if i didn’t mention that the route to the camp site put the organisers, marshals, media and medics in the convoy, on par with the competitors. The same hardy trails dished out impartially. Kudos to their seasoned driving skills, and unwavering enthusiasm!
On 22nd the SSs were predominantly speed runs. (See below images)
On 23rd, the SSs involved speed runs, test of driving skills, manoeuvring thru’ trees and winching stages. (See below images)
On 24th, the SSs involved extreme winching, use of strategy and agile moves for co-drivers in order to complete without DNF. We saw some serious damage to the vehicles on this day. And due to the heavy rains the previous day, the water levels had risen in the river, leading to heavy current. As a matter of safety and precaution, two river-crossing SSs had to be called off.
On 25th the convoy made its way out of the thick jungle, back to Colombo and the event concluded with a grand award ceremony on 26th at the Colombo Motor Show.

Few images on Flag-off
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Last edited by GTO : 2nd November 2012 at 17:50. Reason: Embedding the youtube video
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Old 4th November 2012, 18:57   #2
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TAPROBANA 4X4 CHALLENGE: Sri Lanka’s Pride in the 4X4 Arena

The ninth edition of the Taprobana 4X4 Challenge held between 19 and 26 October, 2012 in the jungles of Monaragala can be summarized as a face-off between the Malaysian 4x4 Super Powers and the Sri Lankan Lion Hearts. The local veterans Indika Sanjaya & Navin Marapana (Team 105) clinched the title after a stiff battle with RFC 2011 Champions Mervin Lim and Hamizan Hamid (Team 129) from Malaysia.
The Malaysian contingent this year also included John Yap & Ricky Low (Team 104) from Adventure Club of Kuala Lumpur, Jacky Ho & Tommy Tian (Team 123) from Adventure Club of Malaysia and Chin King Seong & CK Danny (Team 155)- the second runners-up at the Malaysian 4x4 Jamboree.
There was also a unique Sri Lanka- Malaysia partnership this year, thanks to the efforts of Deepthi Perera who ran a Malaysian-built Jeep CJ with Malaysian co-driver Francis Khoo. And his Jeep Wrangler was in turn driven by Bann Riyazuddin & Beuford Bakri- the Lankan from Malaysia.
Among the local teams, the Sri Lankan LR Team: Indika Sanjaya & Navin Marapana , Ranga Ahangama & Ravindra Sanjeewa and Awantha Silva & M.D. Manjula looked to be a well-prepared unit with a singular focus.
Local competitors Wajra Kumara and Anuradha Abeywickrama went back to the drawing board after last year’s event with a firm resolve to put up a good show. They came well-prepared with their Toyotas and managed to successfully complete the event with points on the board.
Seasoned offroaders Osanda Maligaspe & Shammie Buwaneka (Team 102) and Ravindra Rathnasiri & Harsha Kumara (Team 107) did not achieve the results they had hoped for. Both teams began with a bad spell of DNFs (Did Not Finish). While Team 102 decided to box on with their fighting spirit till the end; Team 107 packed their bags after the prolog stage and headed home.
Osanda Maligaspe who has been part of the Taprobana Challenge for nine consecutive years now, is a true sportsman and an inspiration. In spite of the setbacks in the prolog, his “never say die” attitude kept him going, fighting all odds until the last of the jungle stages.
The convoy entered the jungle stages on the 21st of October 2012, with Team 105 topping the points board and Team 129 trailing at the 4th place. Mervin Lim (Team 129) demonstrated the prowess of his SR20 DET-powered Suzuki Jimmy, clawing his way up the rankings.
The Malaysian teams were at home in the jungle stages, with Team 123 and Team 155 putting up some spectacular performance, improving their rankings as the battle progressed.
However, the Night Special Stages put some competitors on back-foot. And they were soon losing ground. The top contenders Indika Sanjaya and Mervin Lim were no exception either. They both had two DNFs each, thus narrowing down the gaps in the top positions.
While the Night Special Stages brought in a whole new perspective to the championship, the Day Special Stages were nonetheless challenging too. Special Stages 10 through 13 were normal 4x4 trail scenarios where a standard Jeep Wrangler with 32” tyres successfully negotiated and completed the same. Interestingly, it was the same 4 SSs (SS10 – SS13) that proved challenging for some super-modified machines with portal axles.
Competitors realised that power wasn’t the key; proving once again that regardless of the modifications to the vehicles, it was the strategy and technique that finally mattered.
To quote Sean Hameed, Event Director- Taprobana Challenge “Extreme Class Competition calls for extreme preparation, and not just extreme modification. The jungle calls for reliability with proven equipment and not experimentation, especially when there are no backup vehicles allowed. The best chances lie with a proven production-class vehicle with complementing modifications.”
Day two in the jungle with SS14 and SS15 separated the men from the boys. The DNF deadline was set at an elaborate 25 minutes each for both the SSs. SS14 was a tricky V gully into the Nambana Oya. The competitors were required to cross the gully, turn around and align themselves to the finish line. The narrow V gully required at least four times winching (each way) and using the right winching anchor to guide the vehicle through
A brilliant run by the champion Indika Sanjaya who took 24 minutes and 58 seconds to complete SS14, proved that patience and experience were absolute need. Mervin Lim tried to gain an advantage by racing his way down the V gully. However his vehicle got wedged in the wrong angle and he had to winch out, incurring body damage and loss of windscreen.
Having lost time already, he tried to hurry his way back again. Wrong choice of winching angle led to toppling of his vehicle. Mervin was firm in his resolve, there was no looking back. He toppled thrice again before he finally managed to straighten his trajectory and reach the finish line. Any other person in Mervyn’s situation would have given up. But kudos to his determination for successfully completing the SS14; It was the highlight of event where his performance defined the spirit of 4x4 adventure.
And there’s more to the Taprobana Challenge than just the special stages.
After a hard day’s battle in the SSs, the competitors would retreat to the campsite to be welcomed with piping hot food provided by the event organizers. Keeping the local beliefs and traditions in mind, the menu was restricted to vegetarian food, prepared by the locals from the nearby Hena (jungle plantation).
The choice of campsite for Taprobana Challenge 2012 needs a special mention as well. Located by the confluence of the Nambana Oya and Kumbukkan Oya, the campsite offered a large expanse of flat ground to facilitate comfortable camping. The cool waters of the river and the picturesque night sky made camping a pleasant experience.
Credit due to the marshals of FWDC for locating the campsite and seamlessly managing the logistics.
Special appreciation to the RFC marshals from Malaysia for helping the FWDC marshals setting up the special stages and running them. And of course Russell Brinsmead, who made it all the way from Australia to marshal the event.
Thanks to the organizers had provided the media team with fully equipped cars and experienced drivers to enable the media to witness the event.

And also notable mention for the four doctors on standby, who came prepared all the way into the thick of the jungle driving their own vehicles. They took the jungle trails in their stride, conquering the hard terrain proving their offroading skills as well.
The Taprobana Challenge 2012 concluded on 26, October in the BMICH at the Colombo Motor Show. The winners were seen in their impressive best to collect their trophies. Guest of Honour, Sim Kong Lun- the offroad guru from Malaysia inspired the audience as he spoke about the significance of offroading in real life situations. The show concluded with a grand buffet and the competition vehicles stayed back at the venue to grace the Colombo Motor Show over the next two days.

The grand success of Taprobana Challenge also comes from the formidable patronage of a multitude of sponsors as well. It is indeed encouraging that a growing sport like offroading has such good support from the corporate sector in Sri Lanka.
Main Sponsors: Sri Lanka Tourism and Sri Lankan Airlines
Co-sponsors: John Deere – Recovery, Toyota – Official Marshal Fleet, Dimo Lanka, Jeep Division- Course car, Official Travel Partner: LSR
Official Logistics Partner: GAC Logistics
Official Energy Drink: Red Bull
Team Sponsors: AvonSmart Engineering, MBSL Insurance, Wurth, CIFL, IPC Holdings and Globe Mirror
Television Partner: Derana TV
Radio Partner: Real Radio
Magazine Partner: Motor Magazine
Communication Partner: Etisalat
With the unflinching support of enthusiasts and sponsors alike, offroading in Sri Lanka is all set to conquer new heights.
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Runners Up Team 129- Mervyn Lim and Hamizan Hamid on their Nissan SR20 DET-powered Suzuki Samurai
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Winners Team 105- Indika Sanjaya and Navin Marapana on their Land Rover 90
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Taprobana 4x4 Challenge aka RFC' Sri Lanka SS6 Team 123

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From the lens of RFC Marshal Az Adnan

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Old 8th November 2012, 18:58   #9
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Old 8th November 2012, 20:27   #10
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Az Adnan again
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Old 8th November 2012, 20:35   #11
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More from Az Adnan

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Old 8th November 2012, 20:37   #12
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Dear TeamBhpians, there are one too many photographs to label, so please feel free to quote and post your queries about the event. Thanks
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Old 9th November 2012, 07:38   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by octaneoverdose View Post
Dear TeamBhpians, there are one too many photographs to label, so please feel free to quote and post your queries about the event. Thanks

Hey octaneoverdose,

Thanks for sharing these pics! Some of them are really scary to say the least.

I'm wondering about one thing though. I see couple of images where the vehicle is almost submerged completely. My question is: How do they survive after that? Wont the electrical and electronic equipments get damaged after such a stunt?

I may sound foolish to some experienced folks out here but just couldn't figure out how they can recover!!

best,
R-six
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Old 9th November 2012, 10:32   #14
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Default Re: Taprobana 4x4 Challenge 2012 (Rain Forest Challenge’ Srilanka)

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Originally Posted by matchless View Post
How much does it take to build such machines in india?

If possible post specifications of these machines.

The whole body is submerged in water? now this is what i call a perfect offroading machines.

Last edited by brraj : 9th November 2012 at 10:58.
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Old 9th November 2012, 12:44   #15
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Default Re: Taprobana 4x4 Challenge 2012 (Rain Forest Challenge’ Srilanka)

Nice. Now that we're talking, let's have @lkcruisers the man behind Taprobana 4X4 Challenge, to please do the talking.

@R-Six if something's liable to get wet somewhere, put it somewhere it can't get wet. Jokes apart, these are extreme class vehicles that you see. Most of the electronics are moved to suit purpose. @lkcruisers will take us through this in his characteristic style.

@brraj "How much does it take to build such machines in India?"
I would like to add something before @lkcruisers gives us the workings.

I have been part of the Taprobana Challenge since 2009. In the beginning I was in awe of these magnificent machines, like anyone else... until I met people like Denson Kumara.

Save this year, Denson Kumara used to unfailingly take part every year in his Diesel Automatic FJ Land Cruiser. Denson's a great driver: no too much revving, steady temperament and cool manouvres. He's someone to really look for and I am personally a great fan of his. Missed him this year.

I'd heard he'd suffered an engine breakdown which is why he couldn't participate this year. If you're wondering which event this happened in, then brace yourself. It was during an uneventful commute to work. Yes! Denson's car was also his daily drive. Save a few essential mods, the man drives a stock car in extreme class events. And it performs too.

Why I am saying this is that most of us tend to get enamoured by the molecule machinery, forgetting that human skill comes foremost. No offence meant, I was just passing on what I learnt from others. I was just keen that our interest in the subject shouldn't be dictated or dampened by the hows and whats of hi-tech equipment.

For that matter the Jeep Wrangler Red (Team 103) is again a stock vehicle.

@lkcruisers- the man himself, has participated and won a couple of events in India on a stock Maruti Gypsy.
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