'Jeep Girl' all set to enter male bastion

'Jeep Girl' all set to enter male bastion

Bangalore-based motor race enthusiast and software engineer Smitha Prasad will be the first woman participant in the maiden edition of the Force Gurkha Rainforest Challenge (RFC) India event that is to be held in Goa in August.

RFC is counted among the top 10 toughest motor races in the world. Adapted from the mother event that was launched in 1997 in Malaysia, Force Gurkha RFC India 2014 will push off-road enthusiasts and 4x4 vehicle owners to the limits of their mental and physical capabilities.

They will be challenged in 250-km terrain from south to north Goa.

Manoeuvring through the slush in their modified 4x4 vehicles, they will fight against the forces of nature and the blinding rain, aiming to make the best time in 30 Special Stages (SS) lined throughout the course.

Prasad will be seen competing with others at the event scheduled to happen from August 8-14.  Prasad, a software engineer with Cisco Systems has been an off-road enthusiast ever since she can remember.

The 35-year-old loves jeeps and owns a Mahindra Thar, a Maruti Suzuki Gypsy and also a Willys 1967 Jeep CJ3B.

Also nicknamed the ‘Jeep Girl’, she started driving and exploring unknown places on her own at the age of 18. She recollects the appeal of driving around in her Jeep, feeling the wind in her hair and having the smell of leather for her companion; this love soon developed into a passion for off-roading.

She has always followed RFC Malaysia and when Force Gurkha RFC India 2014 was announced, she was very interested in participating.

“I have no great expectation of winning, but I will do my best to give all the men a tough fight. For me this event is more about the experience rather than winning,” she said adding “My husband is an off-roader himself and always encourages me. In fact, he pushed me to participate in the event. He is my inspiration.”

Also a member of the Bangalore Off-road Development Authority (BODA) Off-roaders, she has participated in many off-road events over the last few years and has even won several podium finishes.

She was the first lady participant in The Palar Challenge, one of the oldest off-road events in India. She has even organised many off-road events including one for the Wayanad Thrills Off-road Club.

Speaking about how an event of international fame would change the motoring scene here, Smitha said since this was the first international event of its kind being organised in India, it would set high standards following which all motorsport events would have to work hard to match up to that.

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