Gurmeet Virdi and Kirpal Singh Tung have been declared the winners of the 2017 Force Gurkha Rainforest Challenge India. The duo racked up a total of 2019 points, out of 2600, on their way to Overall Champions at the event. They are the only Indian duo to have claimed victory in the RFC India, since the event was first held in 2014, and have now won it twice in a row.
Second RFC India win in a row for Gerrari Offroaders' Gurmeet Virdi and Kirpal Singh Tung
Finishing the event second overall, was Jagat Nanjappa from Team V5 Offroaders from Coorg, who had a total of 1906 points in the event. Nanjappa, a veteran rally driver from India, was co-driven by Chetan Chengappa. Third place went to Virdi and Tung's Gerrari Offroaders team-mates - Sanbir Singh Dhaliwal and Gurpartap Singh - who scored 1685 points.
It was disappointment for Team BODA (Bangalore Offroad Drivers Association), with drivers Siddartha Santosh and navigator Prithviraj AC, who were running as high as second at one stage of the event, being relegated to fourth in the closing stages of the 2017 RFC India.
Kirpal Singh Tung and Gurmeet Virdi with their winners' trophies at the prize distribution ceremony of the 2017 RFC India
Speaking of his second RFC India crown in a row, Virdi said, "I am overjoyed that we've successfully managed to defend our title. It was a pretty tough competition, the positions kept on jumbling throughout, but we are happy that we came out victorious. There was no pressure throughout the event, but the last stage of the competition gave me some serious chills as the competition was really close. It's the first time that our club Gerrari Offroaders has clinched two positions on the podium in RFC India. Overall, I couldn't have been happier."
Given that Gurmeet is the highest-placed Indian driver at the 2017 RFC, he will be awarded monetary benefits that total up to USD 8000. This includes fully-paid entry for the RFC 2017 Grand Finale in Malaysia, travel to and from the event, and the cost of arranging the competition vehicle at the event.
"We witnessed an unprecedented level of competition this year. With the enhanced toughness quotient of the Special Stages and addition of the night stages, I expected the competition to be intense and I am happy that's exactly what it turned out to be. The superior performances showcased by some of the drivers this year makes me believe that the off-roading culture in our country has matured considerably and Indian off-roaders are all-set to give a tough time to the best drivers in the international arena," said Ashish Gupta, founder of Cougar Motorsport, the organisers of the Force Gurkha Rainforest Challenge India.
The Team Spirit Award went to R Sumanth Shenoy from Chikmaglur, the Jungleman Award to Dr. Chaitanya Challa of Hyderabad Jeepers Adventure Association, the Most Unique 4X4 Award to 'The Hornet' driven by Yamunanagar-based Sushant Saini, the Environment Award to William Dwaine Jungen from Arizona (US), the Best Service Team Award to Gerrari Offroaders Chandigarh and the Team Award to Team BODA. The newly instituted 'Rookie of the Event' award went to Goan driver Dattaraj Raut Dessai and his co-driver Pratik Prabhu Dessai for their exemplary performance out of all the 13 new teams that made their debut in the competition this year. The Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Mr. Vijay Kumar for his outstanding contribution to off-road motorsport in India.