Panaji: The inaugural edition of the Force Gurkha Rainforest Challenge (RFC) India got off to a spectacular start here Sunday with experienced Malaysian driver Mervyn Lim (co-driver Hamizan Bin Abdul Hamid) leading the pack at the end of the first six Special Stages (SS) of Prologue.
Lim, in his factory-modified Force Gurkha, led with a total score of 514 points from compatriot Tang Eng Joo (Tan Choon Hong) who, also driving a Gurkha, earned 485 points.
Chandigarh’s Gurusahib Singh (Tajinder Pal Singh) from Team Gerrari Offroaders was the top Indian in third position with 413 points as he drove his Maruti Gypsy on the slushy, muddy and rocky terrain of Dona Paula.
Out of the first six SS, five featured the 4x4 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.
Lim did well to get scores above 77 out of a possible 100 in all SS with his best performances coming in SS1 and SS6.
Joo could have been leading the challenge with three immaculate scores of 100 in SS1, SS2 and SS6. However, SS4, which included driving with two tyres on a pipe in a huge pool of dirty water, cost him 90 points in penalties and he came home with only 10 from the stage.
Gurusahib also performed well among the Indian competitors, bagging a best of 90 points in the difficult SS4.
Local man Cedric Jordan da Silva (Floyd Dias) in his Gypsy also wasn’t far off from the Gerrari Offroader, collecting a total of 409 points while Hyderabadi T. Laxmikanth Reddy (N. Abhinav Reddy) in a Mahindra CJ3B finished fifth with 383 points.
The next six stages of Prologue will be held later Sunday at the same place but with the courses and challenges being changed. It will be followed by the Predator stage Monday which will includes SS 13-18.
The RFC drivers have to fight rain, manoeuvre through changing paths, mud, steep slippery slopes, deep ruts, gullies, flooded rivers and landslides in their modified 4x4 All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV).
The lashing rains tend to alter paths and the competitors also have to deal with unpredictable erosion, fallen trees and other unexpected hurdles.
The contestants have to compete in 30 SS which are divided into four sections -- Prologue, Predator, Terminator and Twilight.