Indian driver, Sanjay Takale, is determined to finish this weekend’s Malaysian Rally, the fourth round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), to keep his current position in the driver’s championship, but to also make a solid start in the Asia Cup championship.
Takale, who currently sits in second place after the first three rounds of the APRC held in New Zealand, New Caledonia and Australia, says his strategy to simply finish every rally has paid off, and he’ll be applying the same strategy here in Malaysia.
“I had a strategy to be conservative and stay centre [of the road] at every rally and it has worked for us. But this is my fourth time in Malaysia so I’m in two minds whether to push, or just go steady to get points,” explained Takale.
“I am very much at home in Malaysia but this rally can easily catch you off guard. Your strong points become your weak points as you start to get confident but it’s important for me to finish this rally so I think I’ll just take it easy.
“This is also the rally of rain. Every year I’ve been here it has rained during the rally which makes it very hard to judge grip levels and with all the different colours of sand, the grip changes all the time.”
While Takale is hoping his experience on these roads will pay off, he also has another small advantage over other teams contesting in the Asia Cup here in Malaysia.
Co-driver Sean Gregory is based in Malaysia, along with MRU Motorsports, who prepare and maintain Takale’s Subaru Impreza WRX.
“My service crew are world class. They are absolutely the best! In fact, a couple of them used to work as mechanics in the World Rally Championship so they definitely build a great car,” said Takale.
The Asia Cup is a three round mini-series within the APRC where teams can score points over the Asian based events, starting in Malaysia this weekend before heading to Japan and Thailand later in the year.
“The Asia Cup is a great opportunity for me as I like to represent the continent I live in. A regional championship, like the Asia Cup, is very important in a rally driver’s career I think.”
Takale will be up against some tough competition in this series, including current APRC driver’s championship leader Esapekka Lappi, and last year’s Asia Cup winner Yuya Sumiyama.
While Lappi doesn’t have any experience on the difficult Malaysian roads, Sumiyama has competed here three times so may be hard to beat but Takale says he’ll stick to his plan which he hopes will pay off.
The Malaysian Rally is set to start from the Angsana Complex in Johor Bahru at 3.30pm on Friday 23 August. Crews then head north of Johor Bahru to compete across 219.90 kilometres of closed special stages during Saturday and Sunday before concluding back at Angsana at approximately 4.00pm on Sunday 25 August.