ThePrologue leg of season 3 of RFC India was split into 12 stages, the first six stages of which were held yesterday onDay 2 of the 2016 Force Gurkha Rainforest Challenge. On Day 3 the remaining six stages, SS-7 to SS-12 were held. Just like yesterday, the 30 participating teams were split into multiple groups which meant that all the stages could be held simultaneously.
Compared to first six stages of the Prologue leg, SS-7 to SS-12 were a lot tougher and certainly more challenging as well. SS-7 stage started with a two feet drop and competitors had to rely on bridging ladders to get past it. They then had to drive through a slush-filled trench. The exit out of it was much more difficult and most competitors had to winch themselves out.
SS-8 offered not only the steepest but also the most slippery climbs and drops. And the incessant rain meant muddy water was flowing down the slopes making it even more difficult for the tyres to find traction. What complicated the stage even more for the teams was that there was very little space between the route markers. It required precise driving to manoeuvre throughthe stage without dragging any of the marker flags along the way. Some competitors went pedal to the metal while attempting to climb the inclineand ended up dragging multiple flags, which of course meant they were docked points.
At first, SS-9 seemed to be the easiest stage. Barely a few metres from the start was a shallow slush pit which led to a mud trail. However, as they say looks are often deceptive. It turned out to be the most challenging stage with a very high risk of causing damage to the vehicles. In one part, the route was completely littered with rocks of different sizes and shapes. Adding to the challenge was that the rocky terrain gained over two feet in height from the start point. Teams not only had to manoeuvre over them but also take 'U' turnswithin an area marked by cones and then drive down to the finish point. Participants had no option but to tread slowly across this one.
The unique bit of SS-10 was that it required competitors to drive through a slalom course. Needless to say, the muddy terrain added to the challenge, while the large turning radius of the vehicles meant drivers had to keep on moving forward and reversing to successfully navigate through without hitting any cone. After negotiating the slalom, teams also had to drive through two slush pits and the exit point of both was a near vertical two feet climb.
SS-11 ended up testing the drivers and the co-drivers fitness levels, co-ordination and communication skills and their ability to change a tyre quickly! Yes, right after the start teams had to drive the front wheels out of a foot deep slush pit and change eitherone of the vehicle's front tyres. After that, they had to drive across a muddy trail and get past what looked like a near three foot vertical climb. Most teams had to winch themselves out by using the help of a tree. Of course, any damage to the tree or neglecting to follow the safety rules meant a penalty.
SS-12 was a combination of yesterday's gruelling SS-5 and SS-6 stages. Since, the participants had already driven through them yesterday, they were aware what mistakes to avoid. However, driving through both of them in one loop was a new challenge for all teams.
Tomorrow, on Day 4 of the 2016 Force Gurkha Rainforest Challenge, the Predator stages will be held at Quepem (Cavorem) in South Goa.
SS-7 started with a two foot drop and competitors had to rely on bridging ladders
To exit the slush-filled trench in the Prologue SS-7 teams had to winch themselves out
To finish the Prologue SS-7 teams now had to get past the same two foot drop
Prologue SS-8 had the steepest and the most slippery climbs and drops
Muddy rain water flowing down the slopes made it more difficult for tyres to find traction
Prologue SS-9 turned out to be the most challenging with a high risk of causing damage to the vehicles
In one part, the route was completely littered with rocks of different sizes and shapes
The rocky terrain gained over two feet in height from the start point
Participants had no option but to tread slowly
In Prologue SS-10 teams had to drive through two slush pits whose exit points had a near vertical two foot climb
SS-10 also required competitors to drive through a slalom course
In Prologue SS-11 teams had to change one of the vehicle's front tyres
Then they had to get past what looked like a near three foot vertical climb
Prologue SS-12 was a combination of yesterday's gruelling SS-5 and SS-6 stages