Dona Paula, July 25, 2016: In an exciting turn of events, Gurmeet Virdi (co-driver Kirpal Singh Tung) of Gerrari Offroaders Chandigarh climbed up the ranks and took the lead on the second day of Force Gurkha RFC India 2016 with a total score of 987 out of 1200. Gurmeet, who was at the third position after Day 1 of India’s toughest off-road motorsport event, performed extremely well in Prologue Special Stages (SS) 7-12 with 90 points in three of the Stages.
The Force Motors team of Merwyn Lim (Hamizan Bin Abdul Hamid) retained the second position with 985 points while Tan Eng Joo (Tan Choon Hong), the second Malaysian driver representing Force Motors, slipped down from the top slot to the third position with 957 points. Bijender Singh (Gajender Singh) of Delhi-based off-road club NIOC climbed up one slot to take the fourth position with 870 points. Abinav Reddy Nukala (Laxmikanth Reddy Thota) of Hyderabad’s Charminar Off-road Adventure Club, who was at the eighth position on the first day, ended day two at the fifth position with 816 points.
Analyzing his performance so far, Gurmeet Virdi said, “Yesterday being the first day of the competition, I drove very carefully as I did not want to damage my vehicle. Though we have an excellent backup team, the change in rules this year means that I have to be there at an SS when my name is announced otherwise I will get a DNS. So, I don’t have the liberty of spending hours repairing the vehicle and then going to a Stage later in the day. In such circumstances, vehicle preservation is my first priority. I am hoping for a podium finish this year and for that my strategy is very simple. I will not concentrate on finishing an SS at top speed but rather on completing it with as little penalties as possible. The one thing that I will avoid at any cost is a DNF.”
Regarding the experience so far at RFC India 2016, he said, “The event this year is quite tougher than the last two years. The scale of the event has gone up and everyone is well prepared. You can see that all teams have practiced well and there is great coordination between the driver and the co-driver. Unlike previous editions where there were only 5-6 serious challengers, this year I see at least 12-15 very strong competitors.”
As expected, the Stages at Day 2 of the Prologue leg were tougher than the initial six stages of the previous day. The Rajiv Gandhi IT Habitat in Dona Paula, where the Prologue SS were held, was full of slush owing to nonstop rain over the last few days. Therefore, the tasks were quite difficult even at this early stage of the competition.
Most of the SS on Day 2 of the Prologue leg aimed at testing the driving skills of the competitors. SS7 entailed going down a slope, crossing a water channel and then coming up through an undulating rock bed followed by climbing a wall of rock. Bijender Singh (Gajender Singh) managed to complete this difficult task in merely 3 minutes and 34 seconds, the least time taken for this task, thereby scoring a perfect 100 for this SS.
SS8 was a winching task which tested the vehicle’s capability of climbing up a difficult slope. This Stage required great coordination between the driver and co-driver as there were three climbs in the SS. On the other hand, SS10 was a fun task in which the teams had to drive the vehicle in a double S formation just like a snake and through some sharp turns. Most teams managed to finish this SS in less than three minutes.
With the Prologue leg coming to an end, the event location will now shift to Quepem where the Predator SS13-18 will be held. This will be followed by the Terminator and Twilight Zone legs before the winner of Force Gurkha RFC India 2016 is announced on 29th July. The top Indian driver of the competition will get a free automatic entry to RFC Malaysia 2016, which is a dream come true for any offroader as the RFC Mother Event is counted among the top ten toughest motor races in the world.