Quepem, July 25, 2018: After a tough start to the competition amidst heavy rainfall as well as a night stage on the inaugural day of ISUZU RFC India 2018, followed by a rest day to allow the contestants to recover, a clear weather and four more Special Stages (SS) greeted the competitors on the third day of India’s toughest international off-road motorsport event. At the time of the announcement of the provisional results for SS 6-9, Sanbir Singh Dhaliwal (co-driver Gurpartap Singh Sandhu) of Chandigarh remained at the top of the leader board with 687 points out of 900.
Veteran rallyist Jagat Nanjappa (co-driver Chetan Changappa) from Coorg also held on to the second position with 669 points while Malaysian driver Mervyn Lim (co-driver Alex Tan), representing Team G.O.A. Fairmont, jumped up eleven spots to claim the third position with 567 points. He was closely followed by the defending RFC India Champion Gurmeet Virdi (co-driver Kirpal Singh Tung) from Chandigarh with 565 points while Hyderabad's Dr Chaitanya Challa (co-driver Shabarish Jagarapu) was at the fifth position with 526 points at the end of Day 3 of the competition.
Sanbir Singh Dhaliwal, who is representing Chandigarh-based off-road club Gerrari Offroaders, seems unfazed by the results on the scoreboard. He said, “There is no pressure on me whatsoever to retain the top position. I am just happy with how things have gone for me so far. I am not taking the rankings seriously as a large part of the competition is still remaining. My agenda in the coming days would be to complete all the stages without breaking my vehicle and enjoy the sport. I am hoping that my vehicle endures all the stress that I am putting on it.”
As per Jagat Nanjappa, “We are having a good competition so far, but it is too early to comment on anything. In our three years at RFC India, I have come to believe that things can change suddenly even at the end! So, we are just holding our horses and taking care of our machine.”
Day 3 at ISUZU RFC India 2018 saw 4 Special Stages of varying difficulty levels running at Suquerbag in Quepem in Goa. In SS6, the competitors had to go down through an ‘S’-shaped track; then climb up through two gates, using a winch. SS7 involved going down towards a track, where the contestants had two ascents in front of them; they had to first take the right slope; climb up; take a U-turn and come back down to the same spot; then take the slope towards the left; climb up and move towards the stop box.
SS8 required participants to speed-run for around 100 meters, after which they had to climb a 3.5-feet tall wall; go down an incline; make a U-turn; come back up; then climb up a steep slope of around 60 degrees and speed-run towards the stop box. In SS9, hailed as the toughest Stage for the day owing to large number of obstacles, the competitors started through a water pit; descended down a drop; then climbed up an incline using a winch or a sand-ladder; followed by another incline; then went through a gate and climbed up a slope yet again before moving towards the finish box.
RFC India debutant T Santosh Goud from Hyderabad, who is currently at the 24th position in the competition, remarked, “Since I had been a spectator at the previous edition of RFC India, I was expecting the event to be tough, but not so tough right from the first day itself! My aim right now is to survive and complete the event.”
Another RFC India debutant Chow Ujjal Namshum (co-driver Inpeng Mein) of Arunachal Pradesh’s Team MOCA, who surprised everyone on Day 1 of the competition by emerging on the third position in the ranking tables, slipped down to the sixth position at the end of the third day.
He said, “I had nothing to lose on the first day of the competition as nobody had any expectations from me. So there was no pressure to perform. That really helped me to be me and do well. Having reached the top of the table on the first day, even my personal expectations have shot up. Going forward, I want to run every stage and try to get as less penalties as possible. I would play it safe for another day or two after which I will try to bring more speed in my efforts.”
The next set of stages will be held at the same location today and then at the Green Hills Agri Farm in Maina, Quepem on 26 th and 27 th of July, before eventually culminating at the Rajiv Gandhi IT Habitat in Dona Paula on 28 th of July.