Heavy downpour and a surprise element in the form of a night stage on Day 1 of ISUZU RFC India 2018, the country’s toughest international off-road motorsport event, ensured a roaring start to the competition. At the end of Special Stages (SS) 1-5 of the competition, as per the Provisional Results, Arunachal Pradesh’s Chow Ujjal Namshum (co-driver Ingpeng Mein), who is making his RFC India debut, was at the third spot at the score board with 300 points out of 500.
Sanbir Singh Dhaliwal (co-driver Gurpartap Singh Sandhu) from Chandigarh topped the charts with 387 points and Jagat Nanjappa (co-driver Chetan Changappa) from Karnataka was at the second position with 332 points. The other two contestants who made it to the top five on the score board are Chandigarh’s Gurmeet Virdi (co-driver Kirpal Singh Tung) with 281 points and Hyderabad’s Dr Chaitanya Challa (co-driver Shabarish Jagarapu) with 268 points, at the fourth and fifth positions respectively. The contestants will be given a few hours after the announcement of the Provisional Results for protest, before the final results for SS 1-5 are declared.
The first day of the mega off-road motorsport event was held at an off-road location in Taluka Sanguem of Goa, with 38 teams attempting SS 1 to 5. Incessant rainfall made the tracks slippery and full of slush, making it extremely difficult for the contestants to tackle the stages. As per David Metcalfe, Chief Scrutineer, ISUZU RFC India 2018, “The stages were designed to be tough on the participants and their vehicles. While most of the SS were already quite demanding, the rains today have made them considerably tougher.”
Chow Ujjal Namshum (co-driver Ingpeng Mein) of Team MOCA from Arunachal Pradesh took everyone by surprise with his electric performance on the first day. He said, “Last year, I attended the event as a spectator and the rain this time is considerably more, thereby making the track full of slush and water. My first SS for the day was SS4, where I was the seventh competitor to attempt the Stage and I ended up being one of the fastest. That is quite heartening as we have practiced hard for the competition for two months straight. Let’s see how things unfold going forward.”
Gerrari Offroaders Chandigarh’s Sanbir Singh Dhaliwal, who was at the overall third position at RFC India 2017, had an amazing start to the competition this year. He said, “The level of competition this year has definitely shot up. The tracks today were very slippery, because of which things became quite tricky. I even suffered a minor vehicular breakdown, which I have repaired now. Overall, my focus today was on preparing myself for the coming days. Hopefully, I will be able to do well.”
While the day was great for some and disappointing for others, there is still a long way to go before the ISUZU RFC India 2018 Overall Champion is announced. The competition will be held at Suquerbag in Quepem for two days and then at the Green Hills Agri Farm in Maina, Quepem on 26th and 27th of July, before eventually culminating at the Rajiv Gandhi IT Habitat.