The 2017 Rainforest Challenge India will be held from 22nd July to the 30th July 2017 in Goa. This year a record 40 participants registered for the event, which includes eight teams from Hyderabad, seven teams from Karnataka, four teams from Bangalore, two teams from Pune, two teams from Tamil Nadu, one from Yamunanagar and three teams each from Goa, Delhi and Chandigarh. Apart from the increase in the number of participants, the total prize money has also increased to Rs. 5.35 lakh ($8000) for the winner. This includes a fully paid for entry in the main event in Malaysia, which is worth Rs. 2.61 lakh ($3,900) and the travel expenses amounting to Rs. 73,656 ($1,100). In addition to that, this year, Cougar Motorsport will contribute Rs. 2 lakh ($3,000) towards the cost of arranging a RFC-spec vehicle for the winner to participate in the 2017 RFC Malaysia.
Cougar Motorsports, event organisers for RFC India, opened entries on 1st of February 2017 and within nine hours, 28 teams had paid the registration fee (Rs. 70,000 + taxes) and bagged a spot for themselves in the final list. In 2015, RFC India witnessed a total of 25 entries which grew to 30 in 2016, but this year entries kept coming, taking the total to 40, which just goes to show how much the sport has grown in just three years. While the entries for this year include a number of RFC veterans, there are also a number of newcomers, raring to test their skill amongst the best off-roaders in the country.
Pune based Force Motors, title sponsors for the previous three RFC editions will retain their title sponsorship for the fourth edition as well, but the company will not compete in the main event. Also, Mumbai-based Fairmont Group have signed ace Malaysian off-roader, Mervyn Lim, first runner-up in all the previous three editions, to drive for them this year. Sameer Chunawala, Director Fairmont Group, will also take part in the event for the third consecutive year and hopes to finish amongst the top five. Apart from that, a US off-roader, will also participate in the event in IronScorpion HMV’s Indian variant of the Scorpion in Goa.
While the competitors are gearing up to take on the country’s toughest off-road challenge, the event organisers are planning to tweak things which will make the competition tougher than previous editions. The event will run a different format for the special stages (SS) this year, along with variations in the running orders as well. Apart from that, some of the stages of the competition will be held at new locations in Goa.
This year, the rules of the game have changed, the participants have increased, the competition is tougher and with the Gurkhas not participating, the playground is level. It will be interesting to watch as only the most skilled off-roader and his machine will walk away with the 2017 RFC India title.