THE Philippine leg of the annual Rainforest Challenge (RFC) Global Series, known as one of the world’s toughest motorsport events, has finally concluded and one talented Kapampangan (by heart) emerged as this year’s champion.
Randy Sobrepeña of the Pampanga Off-Roaders Club, Inc. (Porci) bested out 44 team opponents and took top honors after he survived the grueling three-day competition held in various parts of Pampanga.
In an interview, the off-road enthusiast shared that this is his first time joining the said challenge.
“I am actually a newbie here and I feel very honored to win, knowing that I have very little experience in this kind of hardcore race which requires skills like on and off-road driving, winching, mechanical repairs, and outdoor survival,” he said.
“I am very fortunate to overcome the difficult stages and serious obstacles even during harsh weather conditions and the fact that I only had two weeks to prepare. I would like to credit Larry Mendiola who set up and modified my 4WD vehicle before the race, and of course my co-driver Box-C Malonzo who really helped me conquer the extreme challenge. He was the one who actually paved my tracks,” he added.
He said that the wild adventure not only developed his skills in driving, self-sufficiency, and expedition planning, but also helped him gain friendship—one that actually pushed him to enter the world of off-road sport in 2011.
“During the race, nangibabaw talaga ang camarederie between us all. That’s when I realized that this is actually the primary essence of this competition, to unite together the 4WD community,” he relayed.
“I am happy that I am able to bond with acquaintances who also share the same enthusiasm for this kind of extremities. Not known to many, I joined the sport through the encouragement of my good friend John Sambo, who won last year’s Rainforest Challenge. And since then, I found and realized what my passion is really all about,” he added.
Since entering the thrilling sport, Sobrepena was able to achieve numerous feats including winning the Nasfor National Off-Road Series (Ilocos Leg) last 2015. Another title he values is his stint as former president of his beloved club.
“I was able to serve as president of Porci last 2016 and interestingly, I am actually the first non-Kapampangan who took the seat. I am really thankful for my fellow members who gave me the chance and trusted the leadership to me during that year. I vow to stay active because I really am proud to be part of Porci,” he quipped.
Sobrepeña then highlighted that as part of the group, he aims to contribute his expertise to his fellow off-roaders, especially the new ones. He added that he is also committed in getting involved in disaster relief operations and CSR drives in Pampanga.
“I’ll be retiring as a competitor, but I will continue my passion for 4WD and help my fellow off-roaders by sharing my experiences. I also want to become part of a rescue group and devote myself in helping the province during calamities,” he noted.
Furthermore, the 54-year-old champion said that while these endeavors are not anytime soon, he is now focused on preparing for the Rainforest Challenge Malaysia 2018 this November, where he will represent the Philippines.
“I am really honored to represent our country and I will give my best so I can make us all proud. Again, I am really grateful for having been given this once in a lifetime opportunity,” he concluded.