Following a three month break since his last Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) event, Sanjay Takale is looking forward to scoring maximum points at one of his favourite rallies, Rally Hokkaido in Japan, held this weekend in Obihiro.
With Takale’s overall APRC Championship hopes fading, he wants to make a strong start in the Asia Cup behind the wheel of his Cusco EZY Racing Subaru Impreza, contested over the four Asia-based rounds, including Rally Hokkaido.
“I am behind everyone and at this late stage of the championship I can drive without any pressure of winning points for overall championship. Still I would like to give it my best shot and earn Asia Cup points and be in contention for top spots on the podium given that the final round is in India and that will be something to drive in and show some mettle,” said Takale.
An exciting development for Takale at Rally Hokkaido is becoming part of the EZY Racing team, which sees him and team-mate New Zealander Mike Young combine as Cusco EZY Racing team-mates, leading to more opportunities for Takale around the globe.
While this is Takale’s fourth time at Rally Hokkaido, he says the roads are still tricky, especially with recent storms changing the conditions.
“The roads in Obihiro province are very tricky to say the least. Also rains over last few weeks have rendered the course very thick, but I am sure I can manage that. Early this year I came to Japan to do an ice rally and having done that now, I think any terrain is beatable terrain provided you steer clear of obvious mistakes.”
Takale is also joined by a local Japanese co-driver for the event, Noriko Takeshita, who has done Rally Hokkaido numerous times and brings a huge amount of expertise to the car.
“She [Takeshita] is probably my biggest asset in Rally Hokkaido. She has co-driven extensively in the region and knows almost every corner of the course, plus knows the weather conditions very well.”
Takale also has the advantage of driving for a Japanese team, Cusco, which he says makes the event even more special.
“Cusco are a great team and have many fans here in Japan. They [the fans] are the most likeable as they gather in hundreds and cheer for us, so it is a real pleasure to be driving for them.”
Takale also visited Cusco’s headquarters in Tokyo before the event, to see where all the “hard work” gets done.
Rally Hokkaido gets underway on Friday night with one short super special stage, before two days of competition across 177.12 kilometres and 16 special stages. The rally will finish at approximately 14.50 local time on Sunday.