Takale an APRC Champion despite tough season

Pune based rally driver, Sanjay Takale, enjoyed a season of success in the 2013 Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) after winning the Production Cup championship, and finishing a respectable third in the overall drivers’ standings after five gruelling rounds which didn’t always go his way.

Takale, from India, who went head to head against some of the world’s best drivers including 2013 APRC Champion, Gaurav Gill and Finnish driver, Esapekka Lappi, finished the season taking away multiple trophies in the process despite facing mechanical gremlins and rare retirements later in the season.

The Subaru driver finished only 13 points behind manufacturer backed driver, the ‘Flying-Finn’ Esapekka Lappi, after finishing on the APRC podium several times during the year. Despite a disastrous Malaysian Rally where Takale was forced to retire, he and co-driver Sean Gregory bounced back later in the season to maintain the significant podium placing.

“It has been a very positive year for us. We have learnt a lot of lessons, made a lot of friends and really enjoyed the year,” said Takale. “We had a great start to the season but our DNF [did-not-finish] cost us dearly in Malaysia. We are very proud of our result though, especially winning the Production Cup.”

The brutality of motorsport became evident to Takale at this months Thailand Rally when he retired in the very last stage, only kilometres from the end, with a suspected gearbox linkage failure but even this bitter disappointment could not curb Takale’s positive outlook on the rally season, where he was also poised for a solid result.

“Our team is disappointed that we couldn’t get a podium in the Asia Cup but we had a tough time in Malaysia and Thailand which prevented a good result. But we would like to say congratulations to the other teams who did finish as they worked hard and they are all great people,” said Takale.

“We also really enjoyed the Thailand Rally. Everyone is very friendly and always smiling and we would love to come back here, and also to the other countries next year.”

While Takale’s 2014 APRC campaign is yet to be confirmed, he hinted that he plans on returning to the APRC championship in 2014 with plans being finalised at the end of December.

“We really want to come back to the APRC next year. It is a great championship and we’ve really enjoyed all of the people, roads and interesting things this year. It has been a lot of fun for sure.”

The Thailand Rally, which Takale recently competed in, was the last round of the APRC championship for 2013. The series will kick off again in April, 2014, at in New Zealand at the International Rally of Whangarei in Northland before heading to Takale’s home country India, followed by rounds in New Caledonia, Australia, Malaysia, Japan, China and Thailand.

This article originally appeared on aprc.tv.