Ending at the Rajiv Gandhi IT Habitat in Dona Paula, Goa today, Gerrari Offroaders' Gurmeet Virdi and navigator Kirpal Singh Tung retained the Force Motors Rain Forest Challenge India crown that they won in dramatic fashion last year.
Finishing in second place was V5 Offroaders team of 66-year-old Indian rallying legend Jagat Nanjappa and navigator Chetan Changappa. Another Gerrari entrant, Sanbir Singh Dhaliwal and navigator Gurpratap Singh snatched third place after the conclusion of stages 25 and 26 that were held yesterday and today at the spectator-friendly IT Park.
Virdi and Tung only needed to complete the final stage - that still required three winching points to finish - without any penalties to seal the win that was expected from them at the end of the forest stages.
They did so with just the minor hiccup of their primary winch cable not working correctly and the secondary cable coming into play to haul them out of the final winching point and into the finishing box.
The Chandigarh-based competitors had been consistent throughout the event but also managed to claim the most number of fastest stage times out of the 38-team field with six. A topple on the second day that led to a sore right shoulder and a deep cut on his right elbow for Virdi was the only major cause for concern. Santosh and Prithviraj came the closest to beating the two-time champions, getting to within one point after the end of 18 special stages.
Representatives from Force Motors - the title sponsors - were also present, with word going around of them returning after giving the event a miss this year and that too with a space-frame chassis car. Doing so would lead to significant weight-saving and help take on the relatively light bodied Gypsys, CJBs and Thars.