Offroad motorsports in India is maturing and pulling crowds
"Cedric had just come out victorious from his last stage and was willing to drag his winning streak ahead to the next stage with just one but a humungous hurdle in his way - his Maruti Gypsy was reduced to 3 wheels after some tough time in the previous stage! Nevertheless, the Goan star offroader mechanized a stock 215/75 R15 gypsy wheel at the front-left and set to conquer the slush-packed stage.
He missed the finish line in just about time but was welcomed by huge cheer by locals who had gathered in large numbers in the forest hinterland at Quepem in South Goa to support their local offroading prodigy."
Offroading has been a popular leisure activity in India for quite some time now. Especially in the southern parts, where coffee plantations and lush green forests provide apt terrain, offroading grew as a favourite weekend activity for many.
Gradually, it established its place as a full-fledged motorsport in our country with a few active events. These events are turning out to be huge crowd pullers and are receiving ample love by media and people alike. But in a country traditionally infatuated by TSD (Time-Speed-Distance) format of rally motorsport (courtesy Raid de Himalayas and National Rally Championship), this reckoning came rather slow.
Things remained relatively slow till 2014, when Delhi-based motorsport company Cougar Motorsport decided to bring home the Malaysian Rainforest Challenge, a pure offroading competition touted to be among the top 10 toughest motor races in the world, and it became a historic success. Re-baptized as RFC India, and held in monsoon months at Goa; participants and spectators were awestruck by the sheer magnanimity and toughness quotient of the obstacles.
This year, the competition came back for its fourth edition in July and as usual, the Indian offroading community turned to Goa in large numbers for their yearly outing. With international drivers, never-seen-before machines, and unprecedented tough tracks, the seven-day saga experienced some of the best moments in Indian motorsports history.
The most cherishing factor was that the competition received unparalleled love and admiration from locals of all ages and social backgrounds. Amidst a time when FC Goa matches were underway, the event was a total crowd-puller even at the remotest of locations. It was successful in what mattered the most-intriguing and inspiring locals towards offroading motorsports.
As offroading spreads to major Indian cities, notably Chandigarh, Jaipur and Bangalore, it is also imperative that India produces more events in the league of RFC India. The tremendous potential of Indian offroaders was quite evident at RFC India and it needs more than just one platform to flourish.
Both organisers and automobile industry bigshots need to look beyond TSDs and help provide an equitable status for offroading culture. Only with more events like these can we surface our hidden motorsports talent, for ours is a country brimming with adventure enthusiasts!