After 78 gruelling hours, we finally have a winner at the MediaCorp Subaru Car Challenge 2015. Nguyen Phuoc Huynh from Vietnam will drive home a brand new Subaru XV 1.6L! Malaysian Tan Hong Sheng finished in second place and Singaporean Yip Yu Wai in third.
The endurance challenge, now in its 14th year, kicked off on Saturday, 1pm at Ngee Ann City, Singapore with a total of four hundred local and regional participants. Representing Singapore is a contingent comprised of 320 hopeful individuals, each geared on winning a new Subaru XV and for the first time ever, with COE included – worth S$115,000 in total. The other 80 participants hail from eight countries with each team represented by ten individuals.
Executive Director of Tan Chong International Ltd, Mr Glenn Tan said, “Over the years, we have seen numerous contestants battle it out for the final prize of a Subaru car, and they have all displayed tenacity and perseverance, traits that resonate with values of the Subaru brand – endurance, longevity and durability.”
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In the final hour, last three contestants were showing signs of fatigue and even hallucinated after 77 hours without sleep. It was truly heart warming to see supporters cheering them on to make sure they stay awake until the 7pm break. All breaks come in an interval of six hours and last for only five minutes!
Cameras were set up around the participants to make sure their palms stay within the designated area. Nguyen, standing with Tan at Car 2, appeared calm and composed with minimal movements. Tan on the other hand received two warning tags within a 20-minute window for minor faults.
The last 10 minutes before the break was a dramatic turn of events as Yip Yu Wai (#158 in the photo above) was disqualified after he accidentally moved his palm from the dedicated decal on the car. When asked about his final minutes, he said “I don’t know why I lost. Maybe because I haven’t slept for a long time. I could have done better.”
Five minutes later, Tan Hong Sheng was slapped with a third warning, which automatically led to his disqualification, leaving Nguyen the last man standing.
The 32 year-old engineer from Vietnam is the first regional winner in the challenge’s history, clocking 77 hours 58 minutes. This means Mr. G. Jaishanker is still the record holder of this endurance race, lasting 82 hours 16 minutes last year.
“Tan was a strong competitor, so I needed to be strong in order to achieve my target which is to bring joy and pride to my teammates and family,” said Nguyen.
Nguyen’s determination and stamina won him the Grand Prize that is the Subaru XV, S$5,000 cash as Regional Winner and S$1,000 cash as Country Winner. Tan meanwhile received S$5,000 as First Runner-up and an additional S$1,000 as Country Winner. Host country contestant Yip took home S$2,000 as Second Runner-up and S$1,000 Country Winner prize.
The Malaysian contingent had their eyes set on the Country Team Winner title this year, and the team of ten won the S$10,000 prize for the first time, and will be split evenly.
“We all came here to fight together as a team and we told ourselves we need to stand until we get ‘wheelchaired’ out from the arena. That was the strategy,” joked Tan Hong Sheng, a 35 year-old Sales Manager.
Subramaniam, 35, the “Yoga Master” (and a banker by profession) at the event was one of the final three Malaysians standing, performing head stands to regain composure during his breaks. “This is my first time in the Singapore challenge, and I thought I could last longer. But I miscalculated, and started hallucinating. I can hear people calling me from left and right, but I can’t see anyone there. My headstand made me see again,” said Subra, who lasted 57 hours.
Second longest standing Malaysian, 41 year-old Veterinarian in Puchong, Sathivale was with Tan throughout the game at Car 2, pushing on to motivate Tan but finally tapped out at 7.30 am after 65 hours.
Hallucination proved to be one of the most deterring factor for most of the participants. Some of the contestants actually thought their fingers turned into grilled prawns, saw burger patties in the car, heard voices and get this – hands morphed into fried chicken! The Palm Challenge is no joke, guys. All the Malaysian contestants enjoyed the process and are proud of their achievements this year.
Challenge organiser, MediaCorp made the decision to set up a canopy over the arena due to the recent haze situation, but this received some mixed feedbacks. Sandra Yeow, the challenge’s only female winner who won in 2007, reckoned that the canopy takes away one of the biggest hurdles – the weather. By setting up the canopy, there’s one less element to worry of, but it’s one of the challenge’s most daunting struggles.
Both Nguyen and Tan welcomed the canopy idea but bad ventilation became a new challenge as heat built up in the tent, causing difficulty in breathing and a spike in humidity.
Again, here are our ten local heroes: Tan Chuan Kok aka Scott, 40 (6th time participating), Tan Hong Sheng, 35 (5th time), Chang Wei Khang aka Darren, 33 (4th time), Sathivale A/L Sundrammorthy, 41 (3rd time) and Mihammad Afif Bin Drani, 29 (3rd time), Tan Chuan Meng aka Benny, 35 (2nd time), Mohd Fadhlly Bin R. Azmi (2nd time) and Ronesh Biswas A/L Bisanuth Biswas aka Ron, 32 (2nd time), Vimalnath A/L Francis, 21 (1st time) and Subramaniam A/L Gunasegaran aka Subra Yoga (1st time), 35.
We asked our fellow Malaysians if they will be back again next year to take on the challenge, and it was an immediate yes. Excellent job boys, see you next year!