The whole objective of coming here was to drive this fantastic route and enjoy the challenge but now I have a broken car, and no prospect of completing my objective and perhaps paying a high cost of rectifying the problem.
Labo washing in the cool mountain water
We had only gone about 30% of the route and have no idea what lies ahead. After much deliberation with the team, we took senior Mr. Voon’s advice to pull the car to the nearest village. But since it was downhill most of the way, we took off the belting and used engine braking to drive downhill to Semambu. Mr. Voon’s MkII and the Triton would continue along the route and we’ll catch up with them.
Voon's MkII passing the landslide
I only had Mud Terrain tyres on and with the rain, this short downhill drive was hard going as brakes and steering became obstinate to every command, and the car going into sideward drift for no apparent reason. A tap of the throttle helped the car realign itself but at the same time picking up unwanted speed. This short drive to Semambu was very technical and fun.
Grinding through one of the many mud holes. This one was quite shallow.
The plan now was for Eunice and me to ride with Labo in his Hilux and to leave our car in Semambu and to come back for it after the expedition. Labo’s Hilux had pretty worn Simex Centipede but it did wonders in the extreme terrain. After driving on for half an hour we caught up with Mr. Voon and Triton and continued in through many obstacles. It was amazing to see the standard Triton with street tyres going over the bogs and mud holes.
The Triton has 25 years of technological refinement from the cars that Mr. Voon and I were driving. The engine power, the Limited Slip Differential (LSD) and centre differential lock coupled with an Engine Computer Uint (ECU) made this standard car more than capable for this trail. It was also loaded to the brim with food and water, luggage and TV equipment. Couple with Kelvin at the wheel, this car proved its worth.
This Triton works as a shuttle freighter between Lawas and Ba'Kelalan in the Bornean Highlands. It has 35" tyres, with modified suspension. It can carry 7, 55 gallons oil drums!
We tumbled on the trail and came to a landslide from last year’s torrential rains. The villagers had done some trail repairs and we got through without any dramas. But for TV, we made it a little dramatic with spotters working overtime. The trail finally led us to the village of Rundum.