Day 2 of the Rainforest Challenge India is upon us. Of course, yesterday was the scrutiny day, and all vehicles were checked by marshals and subsequently deemed fit to compete in the third edition of the 2016 Force Gurkha Rainforest Challenge India.
The first competitive stage - the Prologue legwas held at theRajiv Gandhi IT Habitat in Dona Paula. Although the name suggests otherwise, thisis essentiallya barren piece of land with varied terrain comprising rocky surfaces and mud trails.
The Prologue legwas further split into 12 stages from SS-1 to SS-12 with each one presenting a different level of challenge. On Day 2 of the 2016 Rainforest Challenge, the first six stages of the Prologue leg were held. The 30 teams were split into multiple groups and each group was sent to a particular stage. So, all six stages were being held simultaneously.
All the teams were eager to win the highest points in each stage by being the fastest one to complete each task without any errors. However, quite a few competitors found out that in order to successfully complete a stage, one should first evaluate their plan of attack.Every one of those single stages ended up testing the participants' driving skills, navigation skills, technical expertise and fitness levels. With each team comprising of a driver and a co-driver, co-ordination and communication between them was critical.
As promised by the organisers, some of the stages were very gruelling and even a small mistake on the driver or co-driver's part meant damaged body work, a broken driveshaft or a snapped winch cable. And a DNF (Did Not Finish) translates into zero points as some overzealous competitors found out.
"This year excitement seems to be getting the better of quite a few competitors. Some of them, first timers as well as veterans are being a bit too aggressive behind the wheel. They should instead be slow and steady and analyse every challenge before attempting to conquer it. However, I found some first timers were performing as good as the RFC veterans. Also, one must not forget there are still six days left for the competition. To win it, one needs to be able to finish which means taking care of the vehicle," said David Metcalfe, the COC of the event.
SS-1 appeared easy at first as one had to navigate through a slush filled trench. However, the trench was quite deep and the slush hid big rocks which made it very challenging. Also, just before the exit there was a steep climb and all participants had no option but rely on the winch. However, getting the correct approach angle was important to prevent the cable from snapping.
SS-2 was a mix of everything from extreme drops to inclines. It was physically straining for the co-drivers as they had to a lot of running around to attach the winching cable. SS-3 was comparatively quicker as vehicle speeds were higher. However, this being the Rainforest Challenge it too had its share of steep inclines which required a good amount of skill to navigate without getting stuck.
SS-4 was a stage thathad the driver and the co-driver on their toes. The vehicle had to pass over a five-foot deep trench and the only way that could happen was by relying on wooden logs. They had to be placed by the participants in a manner in whichthe vehicle could be driven over them. The driver had to rely on the co-driver's suggestions for steering input as their visibility was very limited.
SS-5 and SS-6 were the most challenging and extreme. It ended up testing everything from the teams' fitness level to the vehicles wheel articulation to the driver's skill. With30 teams participating this year, the first six stages of the Prologue leg could not be completed on Day 2 as per the plan. Three teams are yet to complete all the six stages. Once that happens tomorrow, the Prologue SS-1 TO SS-6 results will be announced.Subsequently, the Prologue SS-7 to SS-12 stages will be held on Day 3 of the 2016 Force Gurkha Rainforest Challenge.
Post the flagoff, David Metcalfe, COC of the event, told every participant to simply concentrate on having a fun time
Indian motorsport legend, Jagat Nanjappa had won the Southern regional round of RFC India
Some teams decided to analyse the stage first and brainstorm on the best way to complete it
The Prologue SS-1 looked fun and easy but the slush pit hid big rocks, which could not only stall the vehicle but also cause damage
Majority of the stages required participants to use the winch to climb out of the deep trenches
In the Prologue SS-4, both driver and co-driver had to work together to arrange the logs in the shortest possible time
Some competitors were taking time out and observing others to understand what mistakes to avoid
Clear communication between the driver and co-driver was vital in successfully clearing obstacles
Some participants were much better at teamwork and co-ordination which helped save time
Some participants ended up paying a big price for poor co-ordination
The Prologue SS-2 didn't look too difficult but was technically challenging
On steep inclines, choosing a clean path is of utmost importance to avoid getting beached
On all stages, if the participant drags away a route marker then they get a time penalty
Changing the vehicle's direction to avoid dragging the route flag required some skilled maneuvering
The Prologue SS-3 was one of the quicker stages
But completing it wasn't easy for sure
The Prologue SS-6 tested the vehicle's axle articulation to the limit
In tricky situations good old manpower came in handy