After a weeklong gruelling off-roading action, last moment surprises, thrilling night stages and unprecedented ups and downs on the leader board, the 5th edition of India’s toughest International off-road motorsport competition came to an end with veteran rallyist Jagat Nanjappa and co-driver Chetan Changappa of Coorg’s Team V5 Offroaders lifting the title of the ultimate champions of ISUZU RFC India 2018.
The team won the 5th season of the RFC India 2018 with a total score of 2006 out of 2600 points. Jagat and Chetan have become the first Offroaders and second Indians from South India to win the converted title ever since the off-road event was launched in the country in 2014.
With this win, Jagat and Chetan have earned a direct entry into the Malaysian RFC scheduled to be held by end of this year, they have also received an amount of 10,000 US Dollars including the entry fee, airfares as well as support towards the car rentals in Malaysia.
After missing the title by just one rank last year, Jagat was elated upon completing the ‘unfinished task’ this year. He said, “This is an incredible feeling. I would like to thank my co-driver, my service team and my buddy – the Jeep – all of whom put up a fantastic performance. We enjoyed every moment of this competition, specially the challenging ones. We were prepared for a tougher and more competitive event this time and we knew that we had to maintain the lead from the very start. The conditions of the competition were highly unpredictable and kept varying from contender to contender. In the end, I think these conditions worked in our favor and piloted us to the victory.”
A nine-time Indian National Rally Riders Champion from 1986 to 1996 in the motorbike section, a Great Desert Rally Champion in 1988, Coimbatore Rally Champion of 1992, MASA Rally Mumbai Champion of 1993 and 1994, Jagat has had an illustrious motorsport career spanning four decades. Claiming the only remaining gem in his string of pearls, Jagat has finally added the RFC India title to the list of his achievements in the third attempt at the competition.
As per Mr. Ashish Gupta, the organizer of ISUZU RFC India 2018, “We witnessed an unprecedented intense level of competition this year. Given that we continuously upgrade the toughness quotient of the Special Stages every year, with a supplementary addition of night stages this time around, I had expected the competition to be highly challenging. I am extremely happy that our contenders have managed to sail through such tough challenges as well. This proves that Indian off-roading is now attaining maturity and our off-roaders are no less than their international counterparts. I would like to congratulate and applaud all the competitors of ISUZU RFC India 2018 for their exemplary display of off-roading skills, valor, hard work and determination throughout the course of the competition.”
Jagat, alongside other podium finishers, category winners and special award winners, were felicitated at a glittering prize distribution ceremony held at the International Centre Goa in Dona Paula. The prize distribution ceremony was held in the presence of Mr Luis J.A. Wee (Founder & Creator, The Rainforest Challenge International), Mr Ken Takashima (Deputy Managing Director, ISUZU Motors India Pvt. Ltd.), Capt. J. Shankar Shrinivas (Vice President – Service, Customer Relations, EA & PR, ISUZU Motors India Pvt. Ltd.) and Mr Ashish Gupta (Founder & Director, Cougar Motorsport Pvt. Ltd.).
Holding the second position with 1849 points was Malaysian driver Mervyn Lim and co-driver Alex Tan of Team G.O.A Fairmount, while defending RFC India champion Gurmeet Virdi and co-driver Kirpla Singh Tung of Gerrari off-roaders from Chandigrah clinced to the third spot with 1800 points. Sanbir Singh Dallwal and co-driver Gurpartap Singh Sandhu of Gerrari off-roaders finished the competition with 1742 points thereby holding the fourth spot, while Dr Chaitanya Challa and co-driver Sanbarish Jagarpu also representing Team G.O.A Fairmont secured a spot in the top five with 1668 points.
Awards were also given out to Team MOCA from Arunachal Pradesh for best Team Spirit; Team G.O.A Fairmont’s Dushkyant Khosla best jungleman award, the most unique 4×4 award to Ranjith Babu and co-driver Gibin Vaidyan from Kerala Adventure Sports Club. Environment award to Eric Benny from Gerrari off-roaders Chandigrah, Best service team award to V5 Offroaders from Coorg, Best Recovery champion Award went to Raju Paul from KASC and Team Award to Gerrari off-roaders Chandigrah, while the Rookie of the event award went to Chow Ujjal Namshum and his co-driver Ingpeing Mein for their brilliant performance at their debut in the competition this year.
Mr Luis, J.A Wee was felicitated with a lifetime achievement award for his continuous support rendered by him and the off-roading community. Mr Wee launched the Rain Forest Challenge in Malaysia in 1997. Speaking on the occasion Mr Wee said “This award comes as a very pleasant surprise. I started the Rainforest Challenge over two decades ago with the objective of bringing the best off-roaders of a country on a single platform so that they could share knowledge and skills. It is gratifying to see the growth that RFC India has witnessed in merely five years since its launch and I am extremely happy to see the improvement in the competitors’ skills.”