Pune-based Force Motors, winners of the top two positions at the first edition of RFC India 2014 today announced its three-crews and the revised cars for the “Force Gurkha RFC 2015” campaign. At a short event held just before the technical and safety scrutiny for the event, the three competition vehicles were unveiled to the media for a first look.
Though the three vehicles look similar to last year’s winning entries, these are far more meaner and tougher machines. The power train continues to be the proven Mercedes-Benz-derived TD 2200 common rail engine developing 140hp and 320 Nm torque. However, the front and rear suspension is now an all-coil spring set-up with long travel shock absorbers. In fact the entire suspension geometry has been revised with there being a three-link front suspension layout along with a heavily triangulated four-link set-up doing duty on the rear. The front and rear axles have been modified and strengthened taking into account driver feedback from last year’s experience and in preparation for a tougher RFC 2015.
All this has been to maximize fullest use of the torque from the strong engine and for that one needed both traction and control, which the new suspension system and its aggregates help deliver. This has also helped the teams to move from 33-inch Simex tyres (outer diameter mounted on 17-inch wheels) used last year to the much much larger – 37inch Maxxiss Trepadors. These are the largest diameter wheels employed in competition in India on any vehicle before and while they are for the specific express purpose of rapid traction, the look and the stance they give to the vehicle has its own visual benefits as well!
Other technical changes all abound in the mechanical department where the axles have been modified and manufactured in house in Pune. The axles now come equipped with the latest Eaton electronic diff locks which are driver adjustable from a switch in the cockpit! If that’s not all, clever positioning of the wheels at all found ends means the Gurkhas have possibly the best approach and departure angles of any SUV or off-road vehicle in the country! All three vehicles come equipped with high-performance twin motor Come-up Blazer winches following on from lessons learnt with them in the RFC Malaysia event last year. All three vehicles were made in-house at Force Motors’ facility at Akurdi near Pune.
Piloting these three vehicles will be the same team as last year. Tan Eng Joo from Malaysia returns to defend the top spot with his trusted navigator Tan Choon Hong. This crew will rely on the proven prowess of the pilot and his focused approach along with the youthful exuberance of his navigator which is helpful given the tough nature of this event.
The second team is an all-Indian crew, led by 44-year old Sanjiv Singh – a passionate motorsport enthusiast cum leading off-roader from Delhi who has fared well in the North India circuit. He will be navigated by the able Jay Sridhar just like last year.
The crew piloting the third Force Gurkha is also the one which finished second last year! Made up of the jovial Mervyn behind the wheel, he will be supported by Hamizan Abdul Hamid in the navigator’s chair. This duo apart from placing second in the RFC India last year, also finished in the same place in the main Malaysian event last year as well. Mervyn has an uncanny ability to judge changing conditions and terrain and how to put a car’s mechanical strength to good use.
The team is hoping that the winning combination of super capable vehicles and the expert pilots and navigators will help it clinch all three-podium positions. The team will also put to good use the learnings from last year and should be in a better position to battle the odds.
Force Motors’ Managing Director, Mr. Prasan Firodia said “Based on the learnings from last year, our team has made substantial improvements in the vehicles and these vehicles are far more capable than what we had last year. I wish them all the best”.