Things are about to get wild, as the fifth edition of ISUZU Rainforest Challenge (RFC) India roars into Goa on July 21. And what’s more there are three Goan teams competing this time around.
NT BUZZ catches up with them
If off-roading is what gets your adrenaline racing, then the Rainforest Challenge (RFC) India 2018 is where you should be headed. Held every year, to test participants driving and vehicle recovery skills, team spirit, along with their physical and mental strength under extreme off-roading conditions, the off-road motorsport competition will feature three teams from Goa this year. Cedrick Jordan Da Silva (co-driver Aster Dias), Tejas Prakash Shindolkar (co-driver Pushker Audi) and Dattaraj Raut Dessai (co-driver Pratik Prabhu Dessai) will be battling for the trophy along with other 41 teams.
The competition consists of 26 Special Stages (SS) or challenges and follows a point system. The team with maximum points at the end of all the SS will lay claim to the title of RFC India.
And having previously emerged as one of the top debutants at the competition Dattaraj Raut Dessai is determined to improve his standing at the points table in his second attempt this year. “Last year was my first legit competition. The first day of the competition shocked all of us. Usually, all competitions start on an easier note and become difficult as you advance deeper. However, RFC India 2017 greeted us with some of the toughest stages of the competition right on the very first day,” he recalls.
In fact after getting ‘DNF’ed (Did Not Finish remark) in the first and second stages, Dessai discloses that he and his co-driver even wondered whether they would be able to complete the event. “But then we bounced back in the third stage in what turned out to be one of the most memorable moments in my entire stint at the competition,” he narrates. Acknowledging that they lacking on some parameters previously, Dessai states that they have tried to fix these this year. “The main mechanical issue was with our winch, which was agonisingly slow last year. This year we have fitted a better winch in our vehicle,” he discloses.
Thirty seven year old Tejas Prakash Shindolkar meanwhile is among the RFC India regulars, having participated in the past two editions. “My experience at RFC India has been a very pleasant one. I have toppled my vehicle several times and have had several setbacks; still I have come out stronger and better every time,” he says. This time around however, he has a slight change in strategy in mind. “Every year we waste too much time in attempting certain tough obstacles manually, before winching out eventually. We have now realised how important winching is at RFC India. This year, we will have a single attempt policy, wherein if we are unable to conquer an obstacle in one go, we will opt for winching without wasting time in manual maneuvering,” says Tejas. Representing the Western India Offroad Club (WIOC), Tejas will be driving his custom-mod Mahindra Classic at the competition.
Goan businessman Cedrick Jordan DaSilva, 38, is also an RFC India veteran and a local off-roading celebrity. Though he has had several podium finishes at other off-roading events, the RFC India title has eluded him so far, being mere inches away from him in the past. “I have certainly achieved a lot of growth as an off-roader because of this competition. Every year we face a different setting, which is tough in its own way. It has immensely helped me improve my skills,” he says. “I am expecting RFC India to be a lot tougher this year. But like always, I am ready for the challenge and would leave no stone unturned to make my effort count.” Cedric will be representing the Goa Offroad Association (G.O.A.) and will be driving a Maruti Gypsy.