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RUN-UP TO 2005 ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL BORNEO SAFARI 4X4 CHALLENGE













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Organisers identify several alternate link-up routes

By FRED LEONG

KOTA KINABALU: The Recce Team has successfully linked up the 300km long abandoned timber track in an effort to reach Sempang Mengayau in Kudat for the coming 2005 annual International Borneo Safari 4x4 Challenge, scheduled for Oct 23-30.

The team, led by Hiew Min Kiyun and his hardcore Kundasang group took four days inside the wilderness last week, before they eventually came out in Kota Marudu through tedious off-road track, where they managed to link up several alternative routes.

Hiew said the team had to endure torrential rain, mudslides, broken or washed down bridges, inching their way through dense undergrowth which totally blanketed the entire track, once used by timber and logging companies in the area.

They started from Poring in Ranau, cutting through Kampung Lohan, Bongkud, Perancangan, Timbua, Pinanwantai, Togop, Tibabar, Kopuakan, Malinsou, Kantas, Takibang, Gana and then ended up in Marak Parak in Kota Marudu.

The route has been described as tough but interesting for off-roaders with several river crossings, good enough for campsites along the way, where they have also identified many exciting stretches for designing special stages for competitors.

In fact, the entire track is more or less 250km but the convoy is expected to set base campsites for two or three nights in one spot due to the totally washed out tracks and broken bridges.

However, he said that all the identified campsites are along clean rivers including the first campsite at Kampung Perancangan.

There are a few river crossings and in case the weather turns nasty and turns streams into flooded rivers, the team have managed to find a few alternative routes in order to reach Kota Marudu and then to Kudat.

However, the final recce is expected to be followed up in a few weeks time to ensure that all the set tracks are not destroyed by the current wet spell, especially in the areas where rain usually is their main obstacle.

Meanwhile, Kinabalu Four Wheel Drive Club (KFWDC) president James Wong said, they have received numerous confirmations and inquiries from foreign participants including print and electronic media from RTM, NTV7, MetroTV Indonesia and a Thailand crew.

Those who have confirmed sending teams of three or four are Hong Kong, Japan, and several teams from Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.

There are a few inquiries coming from Australia and are yet to confirm their participation, but for sure, at least one or two Aussie journalists as well as those from Thailand, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Japan who are among the early birds.

This year KFWDC is again expecting more than 130 vehicles in the convoy and called on all local enthusiasts to register early so as to avoid any last minute rush.

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