Panaji, July 26 (IANS) The second edition of the Force Gurkha Rainforest Challenge (RFC) India got off to an impressive start with Chandigarh driver Gurmeet Virdi (co-driver Kirpal Tung) leading the bunch at the end of the first six Special Stages (SS) of Prologue here.
Gurmeet, from Team Gerrari Offroaders Chandigarh, drove his Maruti Gypsy and led with a total score of 511 points from compatriot Kabir Waraich (Yuvraj Tiwana), who is driving a Mahindra CJ3B, with 447 points on Saturday evening.
Experienced Malaysian driver Mervyn Lim (Hamizan Bin Abdul Hamid) from Team Force Motors were placed third with 434 points. He drove his Gurkha on the soppy, muddy and rocky terrain of Dona Paula.
The inaugural season champions, Malaysia’s Tang Eng Joo (Tan Choon Hong), who also drove a Gurkha representing his team Force Motors, finished with 393 points at the end of SS6.
Out of the first six SS, five featured the 4×4 vehicles marauding through the difficult natural terrain while the last stage tested the competitors’ mental and physical skills as it involved only winching their cars. As the competitors had to compete various SS within a given time, their ability to cope up with pressure was also tested.
Gurmeet did well to get scores above 65 out of 100 in all SS with his best performances coming in SS3 and SS5. He bagged home full 100 points in SS3.
Kabir could have been leading the challenge with three spotless scores of 100 in SS2, SS5 and SS6. However, SS1 was not a fruitful one for him as he came home with only 20 points. But in the later stages, with some brave performances, he managed to finish second.
Lim, too after having a slow start in SS1, managed to chip in with some good scores in later SS to finish third. He finished with two scores of 95 points in SS3 and SS4.
Defending champion Joo had a similar fate at the start but coped later on by gaining full points in SS4 and 90 points in SS2 to be in fourth place.
Local man Cedric Jordan da Silva (Floyd Preston), in his Gypsy, finished seventh, collecting a total of 342 points while his compatriot Bajirao Patil (Sayyad Sarfaraz) finished at the bottom, in 22nd spot, with just 10 points.
The next six stages of Prologue will be held on Sunday at the same venue but with the courses and challenges being changed. It will be followed by the Predator stage on Monday which will includes SS 13-18 to be held in Quepem in south Goa.
Through 24 SS, the competition tests the driving and vehicle recovery skills of the competitors under extreme off-road conditions. Participating teams will have to fight the rain, mud, steep slippery slopes, deep ruts, gullies, flooded rivers and landslides to reach their ultimate goal.
The teams will have to compete in 24 SS which are divided into four sections — Prologue, Predator, Terminator and Twilight.
“The completion is intense and the Indian team which went to Malaysia last year for the RFC mother event picked up all the tricks in the book. However, it is too early for us to come to conclusion as it is just the first day and we still have a long way to go,” Ashish Gupta, founder and director of Cougar Motorsport, the organiser of the event, said.