Quepem (Goa): Despite stiff competition from Jagat Nanjappa (co-driver Chetan Changappa) of Coorg-based V5 Offroaders and Siddartha Santosh (co-driver Prithviraj AC), Gurmeet Virdi (co-driver Kirpal Singh Tung) of Gerrari Offroaders maintained top position on the fifth day of the Rainforest Challenge (RFC) India-leg off-road motorsport event here on Saturday.
Jagat pipped Santosh for the second spot with a total of 1765 points. Santosh, representing Bangalore based Team BODA (Bangalore Offroad Drivers Association), slipped to the third position with 1534 points. Virdi has 1829 points out of 2400.
Sanbir Singh Dhaliwal (co-driver Gurpartap Singh) of Gerrari Offroaders Chandigarh rode on a brilliant show to climb as high as the fourth position with 1492 points.
Malaysian driver Merwyn Lim (co-driver Tan Choon Hong) of Mumbai-based Team Fairmont with 1476 points finished fifth on the fifth day.
The fifth day saw the teams engage in six stages, from 19 to 24, at Maina here. Four of the six stages were ones involving streams running through the tracks.
Braving slushy terrain due to sporadic rainfall, Sanbir impressed one and all in stage 19 as co-driver Gurpartap showed exemplary coordination with his driver to win with ease and climb steep inclines.
Most of the stages were technical and designed to test the competitors on their winching and vehicle handling skills along with coordination with the co-driver.
Several mechanical failures during the day changed the leader board considerably.
Local lad Cedrick Jordan DaSilva (co-driver Dushyant Khosla) was looking fit to give a tough competition to the top three teams when he had to deal with a flat tyre in two consecutive stages leading to two straight Did Not Finish (DNF) remarks.
On the other hand, Santosh was going good in the first three stages of the day but got a DNF in stage 23 and also smashed his rear axle into an obstacle during that Stage.
As a result, his vehicle was reduced to a three-wheel drive because of which he ended up getting a DNF in the next two Stages as well.
This provided some breathing space to Gurmeet, who was earlier head-locked in a fierce battle with him.
(Debayan Mukherjee is in Goa at the invitation of the Rainforest Challenge organisers)