Greetings from Singapore! The sun finally took a break after two days of full force shine, making way for the first drops of rain from the sky since the Subaru Challenge 2012 – The Asian Face-Off started on 1pm last Saturday. Most, if not all, of the “burned out” contestants rejoiced at the downpour, but for many who dropped out due to heat exhaustion, the repreive came too late.

This annual show of human willpower never ceases to amaze me – these hardy men and women have been in the same position for over 60 hours as I type now, with only a five-minute break every six hours to do all necessary business like eat, drink, smoke, massage and toilet.

It was nice to see colleagues and friends lending their moral support during their office lunch break. Like the reassuring presence of a family member, the encouragement is extra fuel for the weary mind.

Many have wilted and as of now, only 30 out of the original 400 are still in the running to drive away a new Subaru XV, which is launching in Malaysia as a CKD assembled car soon.

I witnessed both the 1pm and 7pm break sessions at Ngee Ann City’s Civic Plaza along Orchard Road today, and upon arrival, I was greeted with the news that Chan Hon Ki has dropped out of the contest. He had bad foot swelling, leaving Tan Hong Sheng and Tan Chuan Kok as the only two Malaysians in contention.

Chuan Kok, the older Tan, looked relatively strong and focused, and showed the same defiance during the evening break, which is why I’m very surprised to now hear that he’s out. Chuan Kok, or Scott, has joined the Subaru Palm Challenge two times prior to this year’s edition, and his previous record was 53 hours and 55 minutes.

I’m not sure if he had managed to beat that time, which he told me is his ultimate goal, but we’ll find out tomorrow, along with the reason he’s out. “I have to do it, no matter how,” the 37-year old RHB system support employee said earlier.

His departure leaves the bespectacled Tan Hong Sheng (pic above) as the sole Malaysian standing. This means that he will pocket S$1,000 as the “Country Winner”, and could be the regional contestant to walk away with S$5,000 as the “Asian Winner”. It won’t be easy, as he has to contend with the Vietnamese.

No contest for the “Country Team Winner” (S$10,000 prize) since Vietnam still has five men standing as of now – besides Philippines with two, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia are all down to one.

Last year, Singaporean Chong Kiat Chi drove home a Subaru Impreza WRX after 75 hours and 36 minutes in the sun and rain. Will anyone better that this year? Last year’s runner-up Tilani Haresh Lachmandas is looking good to complete the job this time around.

Painful scenes from the two breaks are after the jump.