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IN a race, skill is one thing; luck is another.

A week before the 2019 Rimba Raid, which has grown to become Malaysia’s most anticipated Enduro race, KTM Factory Rider, Muhd Habibullah, 28, popularly known as Gabit, signed up for a GIVI crash course conducted by Jeremias Israel, an ex-factory rider for Honda Team Rally of Europe, in conjunction with the race. At the race last Sunday, Gabit ended up beating the Chilean pro to defend the title he had won in last year’s the Rimba Raid Mat Daling. The two - Gabit and Jeremias - started as hot favourites for the main Class A category (bikes above 800cc) of the Rimba Raid. Gabit, who is the 2016 FIM Asia Supermoto Champion, was racing on the KTM Adventure 1250 and Jeremias was astride the Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE. Gabit remained humble in victory. He told Cars, Bikes and Trucks that the technical skills he learnt from the crash course conducted by Jeremias, an ex-Dakar racer, helped him greatly during the race.

“I learnt a lot from Jeremias at the GIVI crash course. Throughout the race, in fact, I was applying the hard-braking technique and high-speed cornering that I had just learnt from him during the crash course,” he said. Gabit explained that he was more of a motocross rather than an enduro rider. “The riding styles (motocross and enduro) are different so the techniques that I learnt from Jeremias were really helpful,” he added. Gabit said he hoped Jeremias would return for next year’s Rimba Raid. “Luck was not on his side. He had some technical issues after a crash. Otherwise, I have no doubt, the race would have been his,” he said. This year’s Rimba Raid was the 6th edition and the biggest in terms of participation. A total of 321 riders from 16 countries took part in the two-day event.

Apart from yours truly, three other women took part. There were two women riders for the Dual-Purpose category on Saturday and another two for the Enduro category on Sunday. Sunday’s race was the writer’s maiden Rimba Raid, where she raced in the Enduro Novice category with her regular riding partner Nur Liyana Fazlien Sha’are, both on the 2019 AJP PR5 250 Extreme machines. Unfortunately, Lyn had a technical problem that forced her out of the race. The man behind the Rimba Raid, former Malaysia Airlines pilot Datuk Nik Huzlan, who goes by the nickname Captain Nik, said this year’s race was by far the toughest: only 17 out of 70 riders finished in the main category A where Gabit and Jeremias competed. “Well, I overestimated the skills of some people and the trail that I designed was, I thought, not too difficult. In fact the night before the race I had a sleepless night thinking that it might be too easy for many people. But it turned out to be quite difficult. “Perhaps I was lulled by my familiarity (with the area) so I thought the trail was pretty easy because I did it myself!”

Even Gabit found Captain Nik’s trail tough. He told Cars Bikes and Trucks that he is looking forward to a more forgiving track next year. “I hope next year’s Rimba Raid would be less technical for the DP category so that the riders, including myself, could enjoy ourselves more and finish the race”, he said. This year’s Rimba Raid saw GIVI come in as the title sponsor for the second year in a row. For the first time, the race also caught the attention of the Pahang state tourism. “This is our first time working together with Rimba Raid and we hope that with this collaboration we could promote the state’s attractions, especially around Janda Baik,” said Datuk Idros Yahya, the Pahang Tourism Director. As for yours truly, just being one of the finishers (No 44 out of 44 finishers) was an achievement in itself. The unpredictable river crossings, jutting rocks, slippery ruts and branches dangling perilously overhead were new challenges to be dealt with. It is no wonder then that they call Rimba Raid, the “green hell”. Source-NST

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