The duo from Kerala, who were the first runners-up at RFC India 2021, will drive a Gypsy, which will be the first ever Indian vehicle to participate at the off-road motorsport mega event.
Anand Manjooran and co-driver Vishnu Raj, who were the first runners-up at Rainforest Challenge (RFC) India 2021, will be representing India at the Global Grand Final of The Rainforest Challenge, which will be held in Malaysia from 29th November to 8th December. At the upcoming mega off-road motorsport event, the duo from Kerala will be driving their trusted Gypsy, which they have used at all 7 RFC India Editions in which they have participated since 2015. This will be the first time when an Indian vehicle will be competing at the RFC Grand Final, which is considered to be one of the toughest off-road motorsport events in the world.
Anand Manjooran, a 38-year-old businessman from Kottayam, is elated that he will be the first Indian driver who will not only be driving an Indian vehicle at the competition but will also have all Indians in his crew. He said, “The other teams may have more advanced vehicles than ours but it is a matter of pride for me that an Indian registration number vehicle will be competing for the first time at RFC Malaysia. We have had Indian teams competing in RFC Grand Final a couple of times in the past but our Gypsy will be the first Indian vehicle to participate in the competition. We are also taking a service team of 3 people from India, which means that our entire team will consist of Indians.”
He added, “This is the fulfilment of a long-cherished dream. It took us time to understand the processes and therefore we faced some challenges while getting our paperwork done for the vehicle to be sent to Malaysia. Now that we have managed to cross all the bridges, I am hoping that we will lead the way for more Indians’ participation at international events such as RFC Malaysia. After our participation in the competition this year, I am also hoping that we will get more support from the Government in the coming years.”
The Rainforest Challenge of Malaysia is ranked No. 3 in the ‘Five Toughest Off-Road Races in the World’ by Skoda Motorsport (2018). The competition has 45 editions across 22 countries and it tests the contestants’ driving and vehicle recovery skills, team spirit along with their physical and mental strength under extreme off-road conditions. The India Edition of RFC was launched by Delhi-based Cougar Motorsport in 2014 and every year, the top Indian driver of RFC India gets an automatic free entry to that year’s Global Grand Final of RFC.
Since the 2021 Edition of the RFC Grand Final could not take place due to the pandemic, the India entry for 2021 was carried forward to the upcoming edition. Kabir Waraich from Chandigarh, who was the winner of RFC India 2021, surrendered his entry and the opportunity was therefore given to the second position holder Anand Manjooran.
Wishing them all the best for their stint at RFC 2022 Grand Final, Cougar Motorsport’s Founder & Director Mr Ashish Gupta said, “The international aspect of RFC only comes through when a winning team from the country goes and competes in the Grand Final. The fact that a team from India is going after a gap of a few years is great as it keeps the international character of the event alive. It is also the first time when an Indian vehicle is going, which is incredible. I wish Anand and Vishnu all the very best for the upcoming challenge and I hope that they finish all the Special Stages of the competition successfully.”
Interestingly, neither Anand nor co-driver Vishnu has ever been to Malaysia before this competition. They realize that the journey is going to be touch for them in this completely unknown territory. According to Anand, “We mulled over this for a year before deciding to participate. Since we were busy with the paperwork to send our vehicle, we did not get much time to prepare. However, we have seen a lot of videos of the previous editions and have been talking regularly to the Malaysian drivers who have competed in RFC India in the past. We know that it will be mostly a slushy terrain and that the Twilight Zone in Malaysia is extremely tough, sometimes lasting for 24 to 48 hours. We are hoping that we will perform well. Our aim is not to compete with the others but to successfully complete the competition.”
The scrutiny and technical inspection of the vehicles participating in RFC 2022 Grand Final will be done on 29thNovember while the official flag-off will be done on 30th November. The Prologue Special Stages (SS) will take place on 30th November and 1st December. The Predator SS will be held from 2nd to 4th December while the Terminator SS and the Twilight Zone of RFC 2022 Grand Final will take place from 5th to 7th December. The winner of the competition will be announced on 8th December.