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201625 Jul



Season Three of India’s toughest off-road motorsport event, the Force Gurkha RFC India, has kick-started with a bang with Force Motors teams capturing the top two slots after the completion of the first six Prologue Special Stages (SS).


RFC India defending champion Tan Eng Joo (co-driver Tan Choon Hong) of Force Motors was at the top with 534 points out of a total score of 600. Fellow Malaysian and Force Motors driver Merwyn Lim (co-driver Hamizan Bin Abdul Hamid) had 505 points in the kitty which included a perfect 100 in two of the SS.


Gurmeet Virdi (co-driver Kirpal Singh Tung) of Gerrari Offroaders Chandigarh was the top Indian on Day 1 of RFC India 2016 with a total score of 482. Goan driver Cedrick Jordan DaSilva (co-driver Floyd Preston) was at the fourth position with 442 points after the completion of the day’s tasks. Bijender Singh (co-driver Gajender Singh) of Delhi-based off-road club NIOC was also in the top five with 441 points.




The first day of the event was held at the Rajiv Gandhi IT Habitat in Dona Paula with 30 teams from across the country battling it out for the RFC India title. A continuous downpour made the event tougher than usual for the competitors. The difficulty level was also high due to the fact that most Special Stages on Prologue Day 1 were winching tasks. As per the RFC India Course Master David Metcalfe, “This year I have designed more technical stages that require a greater use of equipment. Unlike the first two editions of the event, winching is not going to be through a straight path this time. There are different angles through which the vehicles have to be maneuvered while winching. Today, we are also using some rocky tracks so that the difficulty level is the same for the first and the last team attempting the task.”


All the SS for the day were of 15 minutes duration and each SS was worth 100 points. The teams that were unable to finish a task within the allocated time were given a DNF (Did Not Finish). Moreover, penalties were given to the teams for mistakes like breaking a peg or a bunting or for touching a live winch cable and these penalties had a direct impact on the team’s score for that SS.


In SS2, teams had to ensure not to break any peg as this would have straightaway cost them 30 points. The driver and navigator coordination was tested in SS4 when they had to work together to build a log bridge using maximum 10 logs, cross it, dismantle it and then put the logs back at their original place. Failing to put the logs back after crossing the bridge meant a deduction of 10 points per log.  




As per veteran rallyist and RFC India debutant Jagat Nanjappa from Coorg’s V5 Offroaders, who is currently at the 15th position in the competition, “I have brought my vehicle straight from the workshop to the competition and after today’s tasks I have realized that not testing the vehicle beforehand was a big mistake. Even then the day turned out to be quite well for us except SS2 which we were unable to attempt due to a broken axle and therefore got a DNS. We broke a few other parts of the vehicle as well but now that we have got the car repaired, we are all set for the next set of tasks.” 


Kabir Waraich of Force Motors Team, who had a DNF in SS2 because of a problem with the winch and is at the 11th slot, said, “I know that the points after today’s tasks are not that great, but tomorrow is another day. This is the first time that I am driving a Force Gurkha and I had a great time getting familiar with the vehicle. Now that I have got a hang of it, I am going to go all out and improve my timing in the upcoming SS.”


While the day was great for some and disappointing for others, there is still a long way to go before the ultimate RFC India 2016 champion is announced on July 29. With the event being the ultimate test of the man and his machine, anything can happen over the remaining legs of the competition as the difficulty level increases in the Predator, Terminator and Twilight Zone legs.

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