The Borneo Safari, held annually in Sabah over the past 26 years, is widely acknowledged as one of the toughest off-road vehicle event in Malaysia.
Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia (MMM) was no stranger to the Borneo Safari, having entered a 5th-generation Triton in last year’s event, which was also the 25th Anniversary edition of the Borneo Safari. That first mission was simple – to prove to sceptics that the Triton, as near stock condition as allowed by the event organisers, would be able to hold its own against the hordes of heavily modified monsters that dominate the starting line-up. The three mandated must-haves comprise a winch, a snorkel, and a set of Extreme Terrain (XT) tyres.
Buoyed by the successful outing, MMM returned in a big way for the 2016 edition, fielding 4 new Tritons as corporate vehicles, including 2 units of the recently launched New Triton 2.4 with MIVEC Turbo Diesel Engine.
The Mitsubishi Tritons was driven by 6 members of the media, 5 Triton owners and was led by Malaysia Motorsport Athlete, Leona Chin. All participants and vehicles from Team Mitsubishi Triton earned the respect of the Safari community by making it 400km through the jungle and to the finish line without any change of vehicle parts required throughout the entire journey.
“As the only female driver of Team Mitsubishi Triton, I was extremely proud to be entrusted by Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia, to champion the new Triton into the most gruelling off-road and 4×4 adventure! The new Triton managed to complete the Borneo Safari in one piece without any mechanical failure or breakdown. This itself is a testament to the strength, durability and endurance of the Mitsubishi Triton,” said Chin.
To put that achievement in its proper context, many other vehicles, including the highly upgraded ones, suffered from a large variety of mechanical issues and breakdowns, some of which necessitated going out to town to but new parts and returning to the jungle to repair the cars.
“We are very proud of Team Mitsubishi Triton conquering the trails of Borneo Safari for the second consecutive year. We were told that this year’s Borneo Safari was the toughest since 2007 and it’s an achievement for the New Triton with MIVEC Turbo Diesel engine for being able to overcome this challenge. We dare to say that the Triton can make it, no matter the terrain.” said CEO of Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia, Tomoyuki Shinnishi.
The terrain and weather conspired to serve up a “perfect storm” of challenges that had everyone raving about 2016 being the toughest, and hence, the best Borneo Safari yet.
Conditions were so arduous that the scout team charged with blazing the trail reported making only 1.7km of progress from the start line in half a day.
“There were frightening reports filtered through the radios – cars were overturning, descending slopes so steep and slippery that had to be lowered gingerly by a winch line from the vehicle behind, breakdowns and repairs,” said Albert John Banico, who drove a Triton Adventure into the Safari.
He added, “Though slipping and sliding, the Tritons took on each challenge and overcame each obstacle, one at a time. Co-drivers had to overcome gooey mud that was usually ankle-deep, and at times sucked in legs up to the knee.”
Every participating Triton was outfitted with the compulsory equipment such as winch, protection bars, recovery points, extreme tyres, suspension and snorkel. The tyres for the Triton are sponsored by global tire company, Giti tyres.
“As the days passed and time ran short, greater urgency pushed the convoy to keep going, even after sundown. Driving and winching and crossing rickety make-shift log bridges in the dark, with intermittent rain, with no end in sight,” said Arvinda Kumar who entered as a participating media for Team Mitsubishi Triton.
He added, “There were also vehicles which were stuck on a narrow trail with no space on either side for setting up camp, everyone fell asleep where they sat in the cars as exhaustion overcame the discomfort of sitting upright while still muddy and grimy from the exertions of the previous day. Though the difficulties, this was a great experience and we are proud that the Triton managed to pass through this endurance test.”
After several gruelling 4×4 adventure days, all 9 Tritons came out of the jungle in time for the Borneo Safari closing ceremony. Though the Triton managed through with some scratches and battle scars to show, there were no mechanical issues.
Through it all, the Tritons and its drivers, prevailed in good spirits and the Mitsubishi Triton has once again proven itself to pass through the durability and endurance test.