Gurmeet Virdi (co-driver Kirpal Singh Tung) of Gerrari Offroaders
Chandigarh managed to edge past the neck-to-neck competition with Siddartha
Santosh (co-driver Prithviraj AC) for the top spot, as Gurmeet retained and
solidified his bastion with 1829 points out of 2400.
The second position is now
held by Jagat Nanjappa (co-driver Chetan Changappa) of Coorg-based V5
Offroaders as he showcased some spectacular off-road motorsport action to
secure a total of 1765 points. Siddartha Santosh, representing Bangalore based
Team BODA (Bangalore Offroad Drivers Association), who was breathing fire down
Gurmeet’s neck with a one-point margin by Day 4, has slipped down to the third
position with 1534 points by the end of Day 5.
They are followed by Sanbir
Singh Dhaliwal (co-driver Gurpartap Singh) of Gerrari Offroaders Chandigarh
with 1492 points and Malaysian driver Merwyn Lim (co-driver Tan Choon Hong) of
Mumbai-based Team Fairmont with 1476 points on fourth and fifth position
Day 5 saw the teams engage in
six Terminator Special Stages, SS 19 to SS 24, at Maina in Quepem. Most of the
stages were technical and designed to test the competitors on their winching
and vehicle handling skills along with co-ordination with the co-driver.
Sporadic downpour turned the Stages into a complete mud-fest with vehicles
struggling to manoeuvre through the slippery and bushy terrain.
Tensions were running high and
participants were trying hard not to let their co-competitors edge past them to
climb up the score board. However, several mechanical failures during the day
changed the leader board considerably. Goan driver Cedrick Jordan DaSilva
(co-driver Dushyant Khosla) was looking fit to give a tough competition to the
top three teams when he had to deal with a flat tyre in two consecutive SS
(Special Stages) leading to two straight DNFs (Did Not Finish). On the other
hand, Siddartha Santosh was going good in the first three SS of the day but got
a DNF in SS 23 and also smashed his rear axle into an obstacle during that
Stage. As a result, his vehicle was reduced to a three-wheel drive because of
which he ended up getting a DNF in the next two Stages as well. This provided
some breathing space to Gurmeet, who was earlier head-locked in a fierce battle
Decorated Indian rallyist
Jagat Nanjappa has been a stable performer throughout the competition. His
experience has enabled him to invent offbeat ways to tackle the stages and has
earned him immense appreciation from all the co-competitors. Analyzing his
performance, Nanjappa said, "It has been quite a thrilling ride so far. We've
done six stages today out of which we were the route openers for SS 21. Our aim
has always been to complete the stages with a technical approach towards
understanding the track and then hitting it hard with all our abilities. Right
now we are looking forward to the remaining two stages and keeping our fingers
crossed. Our aim will be to hold the pace while preserving our machine. The
competition is now like playing the game of snakes and ladders, we have to keep
climbing the ladders."
RFC India debutant Venkat
Devinani (co-driver Karthik Varma) from Team Hyderabad Jeepers Adventure
Association is quite happy with his stint at the mega off-road motorsport
event. He said, "My first year at RFC India has been a tremendous
experience so far. I knew beforehand that the event is meant to be tough but
this is a whole new definition of toughness. From day one to this day, we've
learnt a lot; we've understood the vehicle better, my coordination with the
co-driver has improved manifold, we're constantly learning new techniques and
we're getting to meet a lot of new people. It's been a very healthy journey so
Amidst vehicle topples,
machine breakdowns, flat tyres and fierce rivalry, the RFC India brotherhood
stands tall. Contenders can be seen helping fellow contenders with vehicular
repairs and recovery, track insights and technical advices from time to time.
With all the stages at the Quepem leg of the competition over, the RFC India
2017 convoy will now head towards Rajiv Gandhi IT Habitat in Dona Paula for the
final two Special Stages, before the announcement of the Force Gurkha RFC India
2017 Overall Champion on 30th July.
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