Force Gurkha RFC India 2016: Chandigarh’s Gurmeet Virdi retains top spot after the Predator leg
Despite an extremely tough day filled with several hardships including a steering failure during the Predator Special Stages (SS13-18), Gurmeet Virdi (co-driver Kirpal Singh Tung) of Gerrari Offroaders Chandigarh managed to retain the top spot at Force Gurkha RFC India 2016 with a total score of 1472 points out of 1800. The three Force Motors teams secured the second and third slots at the end of the day with Malaysians Tan Eng Joo (Tan Choon Hong) and Merwyn Lim (Hamizan Bin Abdul Hamid) both tying up for the second position with 1460 points and Kabir Waraich (Gagan Sachdeva) at third spot with 1220 points.
Hyderabad’s Abinav Reddy Nukala (Laxmikanth Reddy Thota) climbed up one position to claim the fourth spot with 1214 points. Delhi’s Bijender Singh (Gajender Singh) was at the fifth position with 1201 points.
Gurmeet, who has been consistently performing well so far in the competition, had a steering failure in SS15. But instead of giving up and getting a DNF for that Stage, the team showed extreme willpower when co-driver Kirpal manually turned the tyres of the vehicle to complete the Stage. Though they got merely 46 points in that task, they won everyone’s heart with their exemplary performance and spirit.
As per Malaysian driver Merwyn Lim, who is representing Force Motors for the third consecutive year and was at the second position in the last two editions of RFC India, “Last two days of the competition were okay but now the stages are becoming more technical. Our ranking is currently two and we are now aiming for number one position. We are not looking at what others are doing but are just concentrating on improving our own performance. I am also trying to preserve the vehicle as much as possible and not depend too much on the service team.”
“Since the last three years that I have been competing in RFC India, I have seen quite an improvement in terms of level of difficulty with more winching stages. Also, there is a remarkable improvement in the vehicle preparation and driving skills of the other teams. I think in another two years, a lot of Indian drivers will give us neck to neck competition,” he added.
SS18 was the most difficult task of the day and required crossing a series of obstacles, including a couple of hairpin bends, followed by winching the vehicle up a steep slope. There was also a special marker in the middle of the SS and knocking it meant losing 30 points in that stage. Of the first 21 callouts of the day, there were 6 DNS and 8 DNF in this Stage.
SS 17 was a fun task entailing crossing a long stretch, including a stream, fast and without breaking a peg or the bunting. This task was meant as a test of the competitors’ driving skills and their ability to follow a track. SS15 was another speed task where the vehicle had to wade through a rocky and undulating river bed while ensuring that all four tyres remained in the water throughout.
SS13 and 14 were extreme winching stages. While competitors had to climb down and then climb up a rock bed in SS13, they had to climb up a wall of around 6 feet in SS14. The Malaysian drivers performed extremely well in these stages. While Merwyn Lim (Hamizan Bin Abdul Hamid) finished SS13 in less than three and a half minutes, Tan Eng Joo (Tan Choon Hong) was the fastest in SS14 which he completed in 2 minutes and 58 seconds.
Bijender Singh, who has held on to this place in the top five since the Prologue leg of the competition, said, “Today has not been that great a day for me. My vehicle’s propeller shaft broke in SS13 and I got a DNF for that task. Since I did not want to lose any major points, I did SS14 in 2 wheels and without a propeller shaft and thankfully managed to finish it. I am very happy being in the top five and want to retain my position during the remaining competition. Since I have hurt my shoulder a little during one of the SS today, my focus is only on completing all the remaining tasks for the day without any penalties. Tomorrow I will make a comeback in the competition with full vigor.”