Sanjay Takale, of India, has been left bitterly disappointed after failing to secure a placing at the recent Malaysian Rally, held as the fourth round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) in Johor Bahru despite sitting second in the drivers’ championship, only three points behind Finnish driver, Esapekka Lappi, prior to the event.
Takale, driving his Team MRU Subaru Impreza, had a fantastic start to his 2013 APRC campaign after numerous podium finishes but encountered several problems during the course of the two day event in Malaysia however Takale says he is hopeful for the next round to be held in Japan. “To begin with we did not start well in super special stage on Friday. We were on the wrong choice of tyre. It had rained and we were on the dirt tyre instead of mud stud tyres. We lost
more than 15 seconds in that stage alone as all the APRC cars were on mud tyres,” explained Takale.
The Indian driver’s misfortune continued on Saturday when in the fourth stage of the day, his gearbox let go and got stuck in third gear, forcing Takale to finish the brutal 22 kilometres with only one gear. Team MRU’s mechanics, responsible for maintaining Takale’s car during the 2013 APRC season, managed a complete gearbox change during the midday service break but at the first stage after lunch Takale’s timing belt broke, finally forcing him and Malaysian co-driver Sean Gregory into retirement.
“I’m very disappointed,” said Takale, “We weren’t pushing too hard but there was nothing we could do about it.” Rally regulations allow crews to re-join the rally the next day in order to score valuable championship points, which Takale and Gregory took full advantage of.
Unfortunately, Takale’s misfortune continued during the morning loop of stages when his Team MRU Subaru Impreza got stuck in one of Malaysia’s infamous ditches. “On Sunday, I went flat out but I misinterpreted a pace-note [detailed instructions] from my co-driver,” said a saddened Takale, “my entry speed was very fast and I went off the road. It was purely my lack of concentration that caused it.”
The unforgiving Malaysian terrain had claimed another victim with Takale, after the majority of APRC drivers’ were also caught out and forced into retirement. “You check everything before the rally, but when a DNF [did not finish] happens that is the worst day. Over the years, after so many rallies, you are bound to face such days at times, but when it happens in crucial rallies like this, it breaks your heart. But in saying that, I know that DNFs are part and parcel of rallying and one has to live with that,” explained Takale.
Takale now vows to fight back at the next round in Japan, where the overall drivers’ championship, the APRC Production Cup and the Asia Cup battles are all set to intensify for Takale which are all titles he could potentially win.
Heading into the penultimate round in Japan, Takale sits third in the drivers’ overall APRC championship only 3.5 points behind championship leader, Gaurav Gill. Takale also leads the Production Cup Championship over Japanese driver, Hiroshi Asakura, who is 82.5 points behind Takale.
The APRC’s next event is Rally Hokkaido in Japan, set to be held on the 27-29 September, 2013. The APRC battle will continue on the northern island of Japan on roads many of the drivers are familiar with, including Takale.
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Sanjay Takale’s 2013 APRC Calendar
Round 1: 18-19 May, International Rally of Whangarei, New Zealand
Round 2: 14-16 June, Rallye de Nouvelle Caledonie, New Caledonia
Round 3:13-14 July, International Rally of Queensland, Australia
Round 4: 24-25 August, Malaysian Rally, Malaysia
Round 5: 28-29 September, Rally Hokkaido, Japan
Round 6: 06-08 December, Thailand Rally