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The fifth edition of the Isuzu RFC India has come to an end with spectacular results

We witnessed some unbelievable off-road action at the fifth edition of the Rainforest Challenge (RFC) India. It was the kind of competition where one drove over obstacles, not around them

Story: Joshua Varghese
Photography: Cougar Motorsport

‘These people must be mad’, is among the top 10 things that will cross your mind as you hike in the rain towards a “Special Stage (SS)” within a forest in Goa. I mean, what sort of people take a perfectly good SUV and modify it into a behemoth off-roader that comfortably occupies two parking spots? Questions like these disappear when you see one of those vehicles plough through a river and then winch its way up a 10-foot rock face. Scenes like that were not out of place because we were at the Isuzu RFC India that was held in Goa between 21 and 28 July.

The fifth edition of the Isuzu RFC India has come to an end with spectacular results

Isuzu became the title sponsor for the first time in the history of RFC India; the regional chapter of an event that has global reputation. Now among the top 10 toughest motor races in the world, RFC was first launched in Malaysia in 1997 by Luis J.A Wee. Since then, it has gained popularity across the world and now boasts of chapters in various countries that lead up to the mother event in Malaysia.

The format of the race was fairly simple. Driver and co-driver had to work together to navigate their vehicle through an SS (a track of sorts with a lot of obstacles) within a stipulated time. The fastest duo earned 100 points. Those who finished after the given time received a “Did Not Finish” (DNF) with 20 points while those who attempted the stage but got stuck somewhere midway were awarded a DNF with 10 points. Competitors who decided to sit one out earned a “Did Not Start” (DNS) with 0 points. Of course, any penalties incurred would be deducted from whatever score they made.

The fifth edition of the Isuzu RFC India has come to an end with spectacular results

Readers, please note that in the following text, when I call an SS “easy”, I am comparing it to the other SSs. None of the stages at RFC India were easy by normal standards.

Day One

Heavy downpour did not dampen the spirits of the competitors as they geared up to tackle the first five stages of the competition. Held in Taluka Sanguem, Goa, 38 teams lined up to face the challenge.

The fifth edition of the Isuzu RFC India has come to an end with spectacular results

The first stage set the standard for the competition by not allowing even one competitor to overcome it. Although the SS was tough, incessant rain turned it into a Herculean task; skilled drivers made it to the end to earn 20 points. SS two was also similarly tough and only a handful of teams managed to finish it within time. The third SS was relatively simple. It was more about speed than technique and saw more teams finishing without a DNF. Thus motivated, more competitors began pushing their limits. SS four was also an easy stage that allowed most teams to pick up some much-needed points. The fifth SS was the first night stage of this year’s event and it ran late into the night. Surprisingly, almost all who undertook the stage finished it within time.

At the end of the first day, Sanbir Singh Dhaliwal and Gurpartap Singh Sandhu of Gerrari Offroaders were in the lead, having managed to score 382 out of 500 points. A large number of teams told us that their primary goal was to finish each stage and preserve their vehicle as it was too early in the competition to begin gunning for the fastest times.

Day Two

The second day was declared a “rest day” in view of the extreme conditions both the competitors and marshals had to face the previous day. The night stages initially planned for day three were postponed to the fourth.

The fifth edition of the Isuzu RFC India has come to an end with spectacular results


About the author: Joshua Varghese


Would gape at fast cars. Still does but now has a chance to drive some of them. Hates driving in traffic but makes up for with a spot of off-roading or the occasional track outing. Insta: @motoknight


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