We are only a few days away from the start of the Baja XL Rally, which is twice the length of the Baja 1000 and travels across many of the same off-road routes. The terrain is rough, and the organizers make sure the the days are long. This normally spells disaster for many racers, who can only hope for a tow and a good team to keep them running. If you are into the off-road racing scene you know the toll these events can have on a vehicle, its driver, and the support crew.
Having raced, chased, and photographed off-road events around the world, Chris Collard; journalist and Founder of Adventure Architects, has formulated some opinions regarding what it takes to create a world-class competition that merits global attention. For him the Dakar Rally pits man, woman, and machine against in South America’s Andes and Atacama, Mexico offers the wild and desolate expanses of Baja, which has played host to dozens of off-piste adventures and events, and Southeast Asia is home to the Rainforest Challenge (RFC). Unique to the RFC is the international roster it attracts, its dozens of special stages, and the terrain. Participating in this event is committing to being soaked to the bone and covered in mud for the duration. Chris just returned from the 2018 RFC finale and was asked if he would rank it as one of the world’s toughest events. For him, it definitely lands in the top 10.
He went on to say that the RFC is more than just a contest of human and vehicular endurance. It takes place in some of the most isolated regions of Malaysia, the highland jungles of the north where few outsiders dare to venture. It is a land of elephants, palm-sized scorpions, and indigenous tribes, where roads are routinely blocked by fallen trees and bridges, or what is left of them, need to be reconstructed or built from scratch. Competition is intense, but the transit days between bivouacs are an adventurer’s dream.
EarthCruiser Founder, Lance Gillies, has participated in the RFC on many occasions. He even supported it as the relief vehicle 2 years ago in his EarthCruiser EXP. While there is a lot you need to consider when building a vehicle for these events, it is the same attention to detail that is put into every truck we build.
Before anyone gets bent out of shape, we are not saying that an EarthCruisers is a race truck. They are far from a desert speedster but have been engineered and built to withstand some of the harshest environments on the planet. This is one reason why we do races like the Baja XL… with 5 clients.
Our peace of mind comes from building a vehicle with the unexpected in mind. They can take a beating a keep on ticking, and when something does go wrong all the systems are easily accessible and you can find parts in most places for these trucks.
For the Baja XL Rally we are going to be testing ourselves in many ways. Navigation, knowledge of the vehicle, mechanical fortitude, and respecting the limits of the team are just a few. We are always up for the challenge, and are really looking forward to it being a GREAT adventure!
Pictures from the 2018 RFC, taken and shared to us by Chris Collard