Quepem, July 26, 2017: In an exciting turn of events, Siddartha Santosh (co-driver Prithviraj AC) of Team BODA (Bangalore Offroad Drivers Association) climbed up the ranks and took the lead with a total score of 650 out of 900 on the second day of Force Gurkha RFC India 2017. Siddartha, who was at the third position after Day 1 of India’s toughest international off-road motorsport event, performed outstandingly well in Special Stages (SS) 6-9 held on Tuesday and become the first ever contestant from Karnataka to top the charts of RFC India.
The Gerrari Offroaders Chandigarh star and RFC India defending champion, Gurmeet Virdi (co-driver Kirpal Singh Tung) and veteran Indian rallyist Jagat Nanjappa (co-driver Chetan Changappa) from V5 Offroaders of Coorg slid down to second and third positions with their individual score tallying to 606 and 588 points respectively. Local off-roading sensation Cedrick Jordan DaSilva (co-driver Dushyant Khosla) soared 6 positions from tenth to fourth by the end of SS 9 with 490 points while Vivek Thomas Kuriakosse (co-driver Ashok Abraham Kuriakosse) from Team BODA retained his fifth spot in the rankings table with 473 points.
Most of the SS on Day 2 at Force Gurkha RFC India 2017 aimed at testing the contestants’ driving skills, their knowledge of their vehicle as well as the driver – co-driver coordination. SS 6 was a free run and a speed task wherein the teams had to follow the gates and move in an anti-clockwise direction to find the fastest way out of the Stage. In SS 7, contenders had to descend a few deep slopes and then climb up a 45 degree incline of loose dirt, which tested the vehicle’s strength along with the drivers’ capability to handle it.
SS 8 was the longest of the lot where the participants were required to gradually descend into a valley and hit a 150 meter long water steam and climb back to the top through boulders. Penalties were incorporated if participants failed to keep all the tyres of their vehicle in the stream while advancing through it. SS 9 was entirely a night stage meant to test the participants’ vehicle handling and navigation skills in the dark.
Siddartha Santosh expressed his feeling on being at the prime position, “9 battles out of 26 won, so I am feeling a little upbeat now. This is the first time when we have had a decent start at RFC India. Otherwise every year we are stuck somewhere in the lower order. So it feels extremely satisfying to be on the top of the ladder.” He further added, “We were very dissatisfied by our dismal performance last year. So we upped our game and practiced hard. We were mentally prepared to handle the worst of situations, which gave us an added boost of confidence while performing on the track. I hope to continue the successful run in the coming days.”
Gurmeet Virdi, who lost his pole position on the second day, said, “I had a brilliant kickstart to this year’s event yesterday. I believe I was one of the few people who actually managed to complete most of the stages without major hurdles in the given course of time. So it’s alright being at the second position today as long as I’m in the competition and stand a chance to fight back. The stages this year are much more technical than ever and I am thoroughly enjoying it.” Asked about the kind of pressure he feels about retaining the defending champion tag and managing people’s expectations, he said, “My temperament has changed enormously over the years and I’m more relaxed and calm these days with respect to the competition. No doubt it feels better if you’re on top of the entire table but there is no feeling of pressure.”
Sam Kurian Kalarickal and his co-driver Arun Padipoyil from Kerala-based KTM Jeepers leaped 10 blocks ahead at the points table to be at the 8th spot by the end of the proceedings on Day 2. “All the tracks look tough but they are definitely a load better than what we had to overcome yesterday. It was more about winching yesterday but today it was about the driving technique. I’m happy that we are gradually moving up in the competition and hopefully we’ll continue doing the same in the coming days.”
Sachin Chordiya (co-driver Suvidh Agrawal), an RFC India debutant from Aurangabad, feels he has had an exciting learning experience so far at the event. Analyzing his performance, Sachin said, “Yesterday was a bit disappointing as we had some surprisingly tough tasks to complete but today was much better. Overall these two days were a great learning experience for me as I have understood the significance of a healthy coordination with the co-driver, winching technicalities as well as the need to properly study the stages before attempting them.”
With Prologue Day 2 coming to an end, the country’s most challenging off-road motorsport fiesta will be held for one more day at Suquerbag in Quepem, with subsequent stages being held at Green Hills Agri Farm at Maina in Quepem followed by the event finale at the Rajiv Gandhi IT Habitat in Dona Paula. The top Indian driver of the competition will get monetary benefits of up to $8000, including an automatic entry to the RFC Global Series Finale that will be held in Malaysia at the end of the year