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Bangalore’s Santosh jumps to pole position in Force Gurkha rally

Riding on good shows between stages six to nine, Bangalore’s Siddartha Santosh (co-driver Prithviraj AC) of Team BODA (Bangalore Offroad Drivers Association) catapulted from third place on day one to pole position with a total score of 650 out of 900 on Day 2 of the off-road Force Gurkha RFC India motorsport event here.

In the process, Siddartha became the first-ever contestant from Karnataka to top the charts of RFC India.

The Gerrari Offroaders Chandigarh star and RFC India defending champion, Gurmeet Virdi (co-driver Kirpal Singh Tung) and veteran Indian rallyist Jagat Nanjappa (co-driver Chetan Changappa) from V5 Offroaders of Coorg slipped down to second and third positions with their individual score tallying to 606 and 588 points respectively.

Local participant Cedrick Jordan Da Silva (co-driver Dushyant Khosla) climbed up six rungs from tenth to fourth by the end of stage nine with 490 points while Vivek Thomas Kuriakosse (co-driver Ashok Abraham Kuriakosse) from Team BODA retained his fifth spot in the rankings table with 473 points.

On Day 2, stage eight was the longest stretch where the drivers had a tough time descending into a valley and motoring through a 150-m long stream and again climbing back to the top through boulders.

There was instance of a car breaking down while crossing the stream studded with pebbles as penalties were incorporated if participants failed to keep all the tyres of their vehicle in the stream while advancing through it.

“Nine battles out of 26 won, so I am feeling a little upbeat now. This is the first time when we have had a decent start at RFC India. Otherwise every year we are stuck somewhere in the lower order. So it feels extremely satisfying to be on the top of the ladder,” Santosh said later in the day.

“We were very dissatisfied by our dismal performance last year. So we upped our game and practised hard. We were mentally prepared to handle the worst of situations, which gave us an added boost of confidence while performing on the track. I hope to continue the successful run in the coming days,” he added.

Virdi, who lost his pole position on the second day, said: “I had a brilliant kickstart to this year’s event yesterday. I believe I was one of the few people who actually managed to complete most of the stages without major hurdles in the given course of time.”

“So it’s alright being at the second position today as long as I’m in the competition and stand a chance to fight back,” he added.