India’s premier off-road motorsport event returns with some significant changes.
India’s premier off-road motorsport event’s fourth running will have a different complexion to its previous editions. Force Motors will not be fielding a team of its Gurkhas that had become a staple of the event. After a hard fought third edition, which was finally decided by the event officials following an appeal by Force Motors, the event got its first Indian winners with Chandigarh’s Gerrari Offroaders winning – Gurmeet Virdi behind the wheel with Kirpal Tung his co-driver.
This time around, fresh offroad talent will be participating in this muddy and slushy battle of man and machine in extreme off-road conditions. Of the 40 teams that will be competing for the Force Gurkha RFC India 2017 crown, 13 will be making their debut in the event this year. These newcomers include Ajit Bache from Pune, Sushant Saini from Yamuna Nagar, Dattaraj Dessai from Goa, Gowtham Santhakumar from Pollachi, MK Rojith, Shibu Varghese, Nithin Uday Krishna and Shemi Mustafa from Kerala, Pragun Arora from Delhi, Sachin Chordiya from Aurangabad, R. Sumanth Shenoy from Chikmagalur and Venkat Devineni from Hyderabad.
“It is gratifying to see that RFC India continues to draw new participants every year,” said Ashish Gupta, founder and director of Cougar Motorsport Pvt. Ltd. “While we see some of India’s most evolved off-roaders coming back year after year, having fresh talent from all corners of the country come forth means that we are one step closer to our objective of popularizing off-road motorsport across India and getting it recognized as a mainstream sport.”
The event will also have American representation for the first time. William Dwaine Jungen from Tucson, Arizona, who has around 40 years of off-roading experience, will be representing Chandigarh’s Team IronScorpion. He will be driving the Scorpion MKI, which is the winner of the US Top Truck Challenge. In terms of its design, the Scorpion has a patented suspension, with a 52-inch articulation and a 12-degree chassis role. It has a 5.7-litre V8 petrol engine that is coupled to an automatic transmission. The vehicle has undergone modifications to be compliant with the safety and technical requirements of the event.
In terms of vehicle builds, the event will see more powerful engines compared to what have been used in the past. Few of the competing vehicles will have naturally aspirated V8 engines with high torque and power. Efforts are being made to enhance suspensions to match such output. In terms of design, vehicle height has been reduced to lower the center of gravity. Since winching is critical in most stages, the weights of vehicles have also been reduced.
The event organizers and RFC India Course Master David Metcalfe are known to throw in some unexpected challenges in each edition of this extremely tough competition. This year, the initial legs of the competition being held in certain off-road locations away from the city and the spectator special stages taking place in the city towards the end of the competition. There may also be night stages.
There have been some changes in the Classes as well. In Force Gurkha RFC India 2017, separate Petrol and Diesel Classes for above 3,010 cc Engine have been introduced. The organizers have also increased the stakes this year as the total benefits that the top Indian driver of the competition will get will amount to Rs.5,15,084. This includes the automatic fully paid-for entry in the RFC 2017 Grand Final in Malaysia that is worth Rs.2,51,119 and the travel expenses amounting to around Rs.70,826. Moreover, Cougar Motorsport will contribute up to Rs.1,93,162 towards the cost of arranging the competition vehicle for participating in the Mother Event in Malaysia, to be held at the end of the year.