Pune: Forced to drive on hard-knobbed tyres meant for muddy terrains, Sanjay Takale kept his Isuzu DMax utility vehicle well entrenched and in control on soft gravel roads as he finished at overall second position in the 4x4 Open class, in the Round 1 of the Thailand Pre-Rally Championship in Nakhon Ratchasima Province bordering Cambodia.
“Choice of tyre made us pay early and even though I struggled to find grip with hard and knobbed tyres finding no grip on soft gravel terrain we managed to put up a great show to finish second overall,” said Takale of his Sunday’s outing in Huay Bong city of Thailand.
Takale, driving Car No 34, was up against Toyota driver in Car No 35, which was fitted with gravel tyres that suited the terrain in Huay Bong that was soft and fast.
“Our team came fitted with mud tyres of hard compound, but I still managed to keep my car clean on the fast lines and beat my teammate, who was seeded ahead of me,” said Takale of the rally in which 37 cars took part over 9 special stages that comprised three stages going thrice over for a total distance of 72.48-km.
Isuzu driver Wichawat Chotrawee, who had Thai No 1 navigator by his side, Chupong Chaiwan, won the 4x4 Open class ahead of Takale.
The Pune rally driver drove for Delo Sport with experienced Thanyaphat Meenil was his co-driver. This two-day rally was the precursor to the four-round Thailand National Rally Championship 2018 that opens in the first week of July.
“We stayed well in the morning and I took 16 seconds on Wichawat and in next stage I took 8 seconds on him and by the time we reached midday service I had over 30 seconds on him,” is how Takale described the rally proceedings.
Ahead in the stages, Toyota drivers were making 2-3 seconds per kilometre on Isuzu vehicles due to their correct tyre selection.
“Nonetheless, I beat Wichawat in 8 of the 9 stages and kept ahead of him by deciding to compromise on entry speed into the corners due to lack of tyre grip as we were bleeding time to the Toyotas,” Takale explained.
“Also I concentrated more on exit speed at the corners to compensate the grip, but I think it was good result for me in the given situation.
With the Thailand Pre-Rally, Takale got into the gruel of rallying after a well-deserved break following two back-to-back rallies he drove in Latvia and Estonia in May.