Passion for sport is not confined to the grand stages of the Olympics, World Championships or World Cups. It thrives in the countless lesser-known but equally celebrated events that bring enthusiastic people together, offering them an opportunity to showcase their talent, discipline and love for sports.
Events like Vertical Blue in Freediving, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, or The Marathon des Sables, each unique in their demands of skill, determination and training, are prime examples of sporting events that are not mainstream but are widely followed by passionate people.
Having come a long way from its beginnings as a friendly event in 2015, Rimba Raid is now on the verge of breaking through and becoming one of these storied events accessible to global competitors. Held in the heart of a jungle that is home to some of the most incredible tropical fauna like the Seledang, elephants and tiger. Successfully running an event of this nature takes preparation, planning and flawless execution. The Rimba Raid team have proven this in the past and are set to repeat it in 2023.
Several Malaysia based teams were at the event while the rest trained diligently in their home countries. Given the race was just a few weeks away, there was anticipation and excitement at the launch. The banter around bike preparation, rider training, fitness. And lack thereof, of course. There was a lot of lighthearted chatter underneath the confidence in their preparations as well.
While the prized Thai prepped Tenere 700’s were conspicuous by their absence, the bikes on display were painstakingly well prepared, each modification or change proof of the team’s and rider’s experience and deep understanding of racing offroad forest trails in difficult conditions. Puncture proof wheel systems and exhaust systems, were designed to give the rider every chance to place well or finish the race depending on their objective. Good strategy backed by flawless preparation are crucial for participants to do well in the longest, most difficult flag to flag race of its nature in the world.
KTM, Triumph, and Suzuki had prominent exhibits, each offering something unique to adventurous riders. The Suzuki VStrom 800 DE ABS great value for money and an ideal bike for touring Asia. The Triumphs a testament to good engineering and thoughtful design. Even the honored guest could not decline the opportunity to try one.
The presence of Suhaimi and his Medical safety team was a comforting reassurance, a well-drilled team offering reassurance to racers. Captain Nik Huzlan’s words underscored the importance of safety, a reminder that the thrill of the race should never compromise the safety and safe return of the racers.
The stories of past champions Gabit, Acoi and last year’s highest female finisher Shamira added of depth and inspiration to the event. Gabit’s battle with cancer since his last win in 2019 and his resilience in the face of adversity demonstrated the spirit of a true champion, a reminder that the trails we negotiate in life are not just physical, but also personal.
The speeches by Captain Nik Huzlan and other dignitaries highlighted the global reach of Rimba Raid and the growing representation of women in motorsport, a testament to the inclusive spirit of the sport. The expanding list of countries represented by the participants create a feeling that something truly remarkable, the creation of an Asian racing gem is just around the corner.
The top finishers in each category will take home a trophy represented by an animal that is native to the Taman Negara. The animal representing Class A is the Seledang which is a true apex animal. Its strength and tenacity make it impossible even for a tiger to subdue it. Rimba Raid will keep another copy of the trophy with the names of each year’s finisher engraved on it.
The event finished with an electrifying enduro bike demo by Acoi, Toomtam, and Hazim. Riding high on their KTM 2-stroke, Honda CRF, and Fantic, they turned the car park into a playground.
Their mastery over these high-tech, high-powered beasts was awe-inspiring. They made riding these machines and doing what they willed look easy. The audience was totally enthralled, glued to the spectacle. It was a masterclass in control and precision, proof of what practice and perseverance can achieve.
The Givi Rimba Raid 2023 promises to be a thrilling competition, a celebration of the spirit of competition, resilience, and love for nature. The event concluded on a high note, with everyone echoing the Rimba Raid tagline, “Offroad. Tak boleh pura pura,” a reminder of the authenticity and intensity of the race. The mood was buzzing with excitement. This was just a sneak peek with the main event coming up in September. Everyone departed after a splendid lunch that exemplified heart-warming Malaysian hospitality. More of this, see you in Kuala Tahan.
A special thanks to the key sponsors this year who play a crucial role in the success of the event. Their support is crucial to an emerging event like Rimba Raid. Without them, such rapid growth and global exposure would be impossible:
GIVI – Title Sponsor
MICHELIN – Official Tire Partner
N8 – Official Energy Gel Partner
STALS POWERSPORTS – Official Powersports Partner
UMOD & SEGWAY POWERSPORTS MALAYSIA – Official Mobility Partner
SONY – Official Camera Partner
DJI – Official Media Partner
JERUNG WHEELS & KAABO ELECTRIC SCOOTER – Official Mobility Partner
SBV TOOLS – Official Toolkit Partner
BOOM+ – Official Energy Drink Partner
Vinod describes his strongest skill as the ability to learn. He revels in being a perpetual beginner in everything he does and in understanding things deeply. He believes equal parts in the law of averages and in being in the present. While on the motorcycle, he leaves testing lean angles and top speeds to his immensely more talented ride buddies.