Superfast and flowing gravel roads, left-hand drive car and daylight for 20-long hours is the setting for Sanjay Takale from India as he gets ready to compete in the FIA Rally Estonia, his first competitive rally in Europe.
Having done test drives in Sweden and Wales last year, Rally Estonia was just the rally Takale was looking for to make his European debut as he accesses and learns the terrains before making his dream debut at the World Rally Championship in a year’s time. One of the widely- watched rallies in the world, Estonia offers stunning backdrop and terrain that attracts some of the best rally drivers to take part.
Besides the days being long, the terrain is almost the same as in Finland, which will host the WRC round in two week’s time. “I will be driving the Markko Martin Motorsport built Subaru Impreza car with Michael Young, who is my teammate in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) with Team Cusco Japan, as my navigator,” Takale informed. “When the opportunity came, we both decided that we simply had to make it happen,” said Takale, who will be competing in the open category of Rally Estonia from July 15 to 17.
On Thursday, Takale went for a spin in the Subaru car, which was left-hand drive. Though Takale has driven left-hand drive car in recce, what makes his task challenging is that he will be driving the same car in the competitive stages too. “I have driven left-hand drive cars in China, Sweden and some other places, but for the competitive stages I always had right-hand drive car. My practice was good without any hitch and was able to drive it nicely and pace notes done by Mike (Young) also were helpful,” said Takale, who has been finding difficult to catch up on sleep due to long days.
“Me and Mike are friends on the field and off it too. We decided to drive in Estonia and be driver and co-driver to share costs and gain maximum experience that we can both take back to APRC campaigns”.
The Subaru Impreza car that Takale will be driving has been provided by former World Rally Championship competitor Urmo Aava. It is similar to the APRC Cusco Subaru Impreza, “My main goal for the three day- event, comprising of 107 competitive kilometres, is simply to experience European rallying,” added Takale.
“Besides getting a chance to drive on such terrains, I am more excited to get the chance to drive alongside the WRC drivers who go to Estonia to get ready for the Finland round of WRC,” he explained. “Given that I had never been to this country even during my backpacking days when I toured 110 nations, I was more eager to take up the challenge. It will also help me in getting myself attuned to the courses in Europe, which is very important before I plan to drive in the full season of WRC in the coming years.