NOT TOO MANY PEO­PLE KNOW this, but Goa in the mon­soons is a spec­tac­u­lar place. Most tourists avoid it — the beaches are a mess, the shacks are shut and the tor­ren­tial down­pour doesn’t let you ex­pe­ri­ence Goa at its stereo­typ­i­cal best. But to hell with stereo­types. While the beach is out of com­mis­sion, the hin­ter­land comes alive. The fields are lush, the coun­try­side is speck­led with ev­ery hue of green you can imag­ine, and the forests are throb­bing with life, their canopies be­ing buf­feted by the in­ces­sant rain. At this time of the year the rivers are full, the trails are slushy and full of… of­froad­ers. They just can’t seem to re­sist it.

For four con­sec­u­tive years now, these jun­gles of Goa have hosted the Rain­for­est Chal­lenge — In­dia’s hard­est off-road­ing event, pos­si­bly In­dia’s hard­est mo­tor­sport event, right up there with the rally-raids. And year af­ter year, the event gets more par­tic­i­pants — proper nut­ters who dare to take on the com­bined might of Cougar Mo­tor­sport and the wild out­doors. Talk to these guys, and they’ll ad­mit that with each pass­ing year, the stages are get­ting harder and harder — this year was the hard­est. But they’ll also proudly state that they are get­ting bet­ter at fac­ing these challenges — they are fit­ter, their ve­hi­cles are bet­ter and most im­por­tantly, they are more men­tally pre­pared.

The com­peti­tors are fiT­TER, THEIR VE­HI­CLES ARE bet­ter and they are more


In the past three sea­sons, the first two days have been rel­a­tively easy ones — they con­sist of two spec­ta­tor stages right out­side the city of Pan­jim, in Dona Paula. How­ever, this year, the or­gan­is­ers mixed things up. In­stead of the spec­ta­tor stages be­ing held at the start of the event, they de­cided to throw the com­pe­ti­tion in to the depths of the jun­gle first, and al­low the sur­vivors to bat­tle it out in front of spec­ta­tors on the last two days. Here’s how things went down — com­peti­tors would have to at­tempt each stage and a max­i­mum of 100 points were awarded to the fastest, 95 points to the sec­ond fastest, 90 points to the third fastest… you get the drift. Points could be de­ducted for a number of rea­sons in­clud­ing touch­ing a live winch­ing ca­ble or tear­ing the bunting. Com­peti­tors had to be fast through

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