Off-roader Virdi retains Rainforest Challenge India leg crown

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Dona Paula (Goa), July 30 (IANS) Gurmeet Virdi and co-driver Kirpal Singh Tung of Gerrari Offroaders Chandigarh retained their title with a total score of 2019 points out of 2600, thus ensuring an entry into the International off-road Challenge in Malaysia later this year as the India leg of the Rainforest Challenge (RFC) motorsport event came to an end here on Sunday.

The overall second position was held by Jagat Nanjappa (co-driver Chetan Changappa) of Team V5 Offroaders from Coorg with 1906 points.

For their great show in the latter stages of the event, Gerrari Offroaders’ Sanbir Singh Dhaliwal (co-driver Gurpartap Singh) pipped Siddartha Santosh in the final moments to clinch third spot on the podium with 1685 points.

Courtesy the win, Gurmeet got richer by $8,000.

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Gracing the prize distribution ceremony was Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar. At the podium before handing over the awards, he said: “This is an event where you need capability, and it stretches your endurance. It’s an event which is completely different in nature than any other sport event.”

Parrikar added that due to lesser rainfall during the weeklong stages, a component that enhances difficulty level in an off-road competition, the thrill might have been missing.

“This year due to less rain may be it was less effective. More the rain, probably you would had to face the challenge more.”

Jagat, who was taking part in the event for the second year running, said the only difference between the India leg of the off-road meet and the one held in Malaysia was the pace of some stages.

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“I was really disappointed last year which was my first. This was almost upto the Malaysian standards except for a lot of stages which were high speed ones. (High speed stages) are not meant to be given on an off-road event. Off road jeeps are not meant to go at those speeds. But they have vehicles like that here and they performed better,” Jagat told IANS on the sidelines of the prize distribution ceremony.

Jagat said he wants to comeback and win the crown next year.

Champion Gurmeet admitted that it was the last hurdle among all the stages that made him nervous.

“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.

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“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.”

–IANS

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