PUNE: Sanjay Takale’s quest to close in on the gap with the championship leader, Toyota’s Atthayut Patchapredapat, backfired when column steering pinion of his Isuzu D-Max utility vehicle gave up that made the Pune’s international rally driver lose time after every stage before he decided to pull out of the rally with three stages still to be run.
“I had finished six stages of the 9-stage rally but I was losing time after the malfunction happened in the third stage and was not able to steer the car towards left,” is how Takale explained the situation that forced him to retire early in the Round 3 of the Thailand Rally Championship in Phetchabun province on Sunday.
Takale is unlikely to get any points from this round, which will increase the 19-point gap between him and Atthayut leaving the 2013 Asia-Pacific Rally Champion to ponder whether to take part in the fourth and final round scheduled next month.
“We will take the final call in a few days. Since my co-driver is in contention for title I will give it a thought before deciding anything on the final round,” said Takale.
Takale’s navigator Thanyaphat Meenil, has a chance to grab Co-driver’s title as he leads the championship with 41 points--11 ahead of second-placed Peerapong Sombatwong.
SPECIAL AWARD FOR TAKALE
Nonetheless, Sanjay Takale was given a special award from the organisers of Thailand Rally Championship “for always being a good sportsman whenever he participated in the event.”
There were three stages of 14.5-km, 4-km and 3-km to be repeated thrice during the rally. On Saturday Takale had a trouble-free recce and was primed for the Sunday showdown.
“We started the first stage well, dropping only 1 second to the championship leader in the 14.5-km stage,” explained Takale.
In the second stage Takale lost 6 seconds, but by the time he reached service he was 9 seconds off Atthayut despite driving at 80 percent of car’s capability.
“I decided to push in the third stage and had him covered on the second pass, but I pushed a bit hard and unfortunately column steering pinion gave away and we lost the left side drive shaft,” said Takale.
The car went slow then on and he lost 1 minute in that stage and kept losing time in minutes in the next two stages as he was not able to turn the car on left side at a high speed. When he reached service after stage 6 he had only 10 minutes of service time and was told it was not possible to change the mounting and the rack column with such less time at hands.
“We took immediate decision to retire from the rally as Isuzu had limped through the Stage 6,” said Takale, who drove for Delo Sports team.