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