After a week-long expedition on the toughest terrain and unforgiving off-roading action, Coorg’s Jagat Nanjappa and Chetan Changappa have emerged as the ultimate winners of the 2018 Isuzu Rain Forest Challenge. The veteran rallyist representing the V5 Offroaders scored 2006 points out of 2600. They will now move to Malaysia and represent the country at RFC 2018 Global Series Grand Finale which will take place later this year. They’ll receive a total benefit of USD 10,000 (approx. Rs 6.84 lakhs) including the entry fee, airfares as well as support towards car rental in Malaysia.
Jagat in car no. 102 grabbed the first spot on day 4 and maintained his undisputed lead for the rest of the competition. Taking up the podium in the second position was Malaysian driver Mervyn Lim and co-driver Alex Tan of Team G.O.A. Fairmont with 1849 points. The defending champions Gurmeet Virdi and his co-driver Kirpal Singh Tung of Gerrari Offroaders Chandigarh had to settle for the third spot on the podium with 1800 points.
69 year old Jagat missed the title by just one rank last year. On completing the ‘unfinished task’ this year, Jagat said, “This is an incredible feeling. I would like to thank my co-driver, my service team and my buddy – the Jeep – all of whom put up a fantastic performance. We enjoyed every moment of this competition, specially the challenging ones. We were prepared for a tougher and more competitive event this time and we knew that we had to maintain the lead from the very start. The conditions of the competition were highly unpredictable and kept varying from contender to contender. In the end, I think these conditions worked in our favor and piloted us to the victory.”
Jagat is a nine-time Indian National Rally Riders Champion from 1986 to 1996 in the motorbike section, a Great Desert Rally Champion in 1988, Coimbatore Rally Champion of 1992, MASA Rally Mumbai Champion of 1993 and 1994, Jagat has had an illustrious motorsport career spanning four decades. Now, after conquering India’s toughest off-roading challenge, Jagat has added another title to the list of his achievements in the third attempt at the competition.
The other key awards were also announced including the Team Spirit Award won by MOCA from Arunachal Pradesh. The Jungleman Award went to Dushyant Khosla from Team G.O.A. Fairmont.The Most Unique 4X4 Award was bagged by Ranjith Babu and co-driver Gibin Vaidyan from Kerala Adventure Sports Club (KASC) for car no. 123. Winning the Environment Award was Eric Benny for his outstanding persona. The Best Service Team Award was won by V5 Offroaders. The Recovery Champion Award went to Raju Paul from KASC and the Team Award to Gerrari Offroaders Chandigarh. The ’Rookie of the Event’ award was presented to Chow Ujjal Namshum and his co-driver Ingpeng Mein for their overall performance and finishing sixth at their debut year.