Among the toughest rallies in the world, the Rainforest Challenge (RFC) has been organised in places as varied as Italy, China, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, West Russia and Vietnam. As the name suggests, the rally traverses muddy rainforest terrain and flooded rivers. Currently, the RFC is being held in India for the first time, in Goa (from August 8-14). Ashish Gupta, founder & director, Cougar Motorsport, which brought the RFC to India, tells FE’s Vikram Chaudhary why Goa was chosen as the venue and how the tie-up with Force Motors happened. Excerpts:
How did RFC come to India?
In November 2013, I went for RFC Malaysia and I was amazed by the levels of difficulty and the kind of team spirit. Immediately we, at Cougar Motorsport, decided to launch the RFC India.
What went behind choosing Goa as the venue?
We required a particular type of terrain as well as constant rainfall in order to maintain the global RFC standards and Goa fitted all our requirements.
Will it be held every year?
Cougar has the franchisee rights for RFC India for the next three years. Thereafter it will depend on the kind of response we receive from the off-road community. But looking at the response we have received, I can safely say that RFC India is here to stay.
And will Goa be the venue every year?
It is too early to confirm this. Currently, our focus is on making the launch edition a success and Goa, being a popular tourist destination, has proven to be quite a draw for our target audience.
How did Force Motors’ participation happen?
Force Motors announced that their off-roader Gurkha will go on sale in September. Thus, RFC India is the perfect platform for them to promote the Gurkha. For us, tying up with an automotive company made sense. Hence, we joined forces with Force Motors and they have come on-board as the title sponsors.
What are the environment-friendly measures you have taken for the event?
We have hired a Goa-based environment consultant with whose help the route has been designed away from protected forest territory and wildlife sanctuaries, on a combination of private and government land. Moreover, for the first time in an event held in India, an environment charter has been instituted which the organisers, competitors and officials of RFC India will have to sign. An ‘environmental award’ will be given to the team that shows utmost care and attention towards environment preservation.