Pune: Some scheduling irritants notwithstanding in getting his World Rally Championship debut rolling; Sanjay Takale is headed for Estonia to fortify his resolve and to get the much-needed practice for the imminent WRC appearance.
With the focus on WRC after he bought Mitsubishi Mirage R5 rally spec car last year, Takale will now be driving R2-spec Ford Fiesta as advised by his Welsh mentor and coach Graham Middleton.
“I wanted to make a start in WRC with Rally Portugal in May, but Graham advised me to go slow of debut and instead get the feel of WRC courses in R2 cars, which are slower than R5s,” said Takale of his decision to travel to the Baltic region.
The Pune rally driver has completely given the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship a miss this year.
“If I need to get my WRC debut on track I have to work hard on courses that are similar, if not equivalent to what are used in the WRC,” Takale said on Tuesday after landing in Riga.
For the next two weeks Riga will be Takale base with two back-to-back rallies lined up-the first is Rally Tallinn in the neighbouring country Estonia and second Rally Talsi in Latvia.
Having driving in the natural rally terrains in Rally Estonia in 2016, Takale hopes to get the experience of driving in fast conditions on offer-much similar to what the iconic Rally Finland offers in Jyvaskyla near Helsinki.
“The terrain in Estonia is similar, fast and mostly gravel and given that this city is Candidate for WRC round in 2019 it will be an apt practice for me to drive in Tallinn,” said Takale, who will have Latvian Edgars Svencis as co-driver.
Svencis drives mostly in the Baltic region for WRC Subaru in the local championship and has good knowledge of the terrain.
Svencis is is third generation rally driver given that his father and grandfather also drove rallies for long years.
The Latvian has been co-driving many cars, starting from Jaguars and Volgas and Subarus, Mitsubishis and right up to modern Skoda Fabia R5 besides Ford Fiesta R2.
Svencis’s win in the infamous Monte Carlo Historic Rally in 2015 is the highlight of his career.
Instead of a usual Saturday-Sunday schedule as with any international rally, Rally Tallinn will be run on Friday-Saturday with recce on foot scheduled early in Estonian Friday morning.
The 13-stage rally is cramped in two days with the first three stages on Friday and 10 stages scheduled for Saturday.
“We might then attend Baltic Touring Car championship in Riga on Sunday, which is a free day,” said Takale, who will be began preparing for Rally Talsi of the Latvian Rally Championship scheduled for May 19-20.
Rally Tallinn Key Features
Total Stages: 13
Total Distance: 511.73 km
Competition distance: 100.65 km
Driver: Sanjay Takale (50)
Co-driver: Edgars Svencis (33)
Car: Ford Fiesta R2
Team: Baltic Motorsports Promotion
Friday, May 11:
8 pm IST: Day 1 Rally Start SS1-SS3;
Saturday, May 12:
11.30 am IST: Day 2 Rally Start SS4-SS5; 1.30 pm IST: SS6-SS7; 5.30 pm IST: SS8-SS11; 8.30 pm IST: SS12-SS13; 9.50 pm IST: Rally finish & podium.