Pune: Sanjay Takale hung on to his space in WRC3 with confident driving despite suffering a puncture and damage to the lower arm of his Ford Fiesta R2 car to be placed 14th at the conclusion of Leg 1 on Friday in the Neste Rally Finland, the 8th destination of the 13-round FIA World Rally Championship, in Jyvaskyla.
Making his WRC debut, Takale and his co-driver Darren Garrod, who has experience of competing at this technical course in Finland, were more focused on finishing the stages and completing the rally than clocking faster times.
Piloting a 2-Wheel Drive Ford Fiesta prepared by Latvia-based Baltic Motorsports Promotion team the Pune-based Takale took his time getting used to the conditions that were tailor-made for superfast pace.
Focussing on negotiating the rough terrain and bringing the car home in one piece, Takale drove conservatively at the outset, and was further weighed down by the puncture on SS-9 followed by the damage to the lower arm which cost him precious time.
Takale was much quicker on the second loop of the Stages as he came in 14th at the end of Leg-1 which comprised 11 Special Stages spread over 128.68-km.
“It was a long day and I started on a cautious note and kept on building from there. The stages here are very fast and big turning crest that we don’t get in the Asia-Pacific region. And, moreover, it was a first experience for me to drive over it,” Takale explained.
Takale is the only driver using car with turbo, while rest all cars in his class are fitted with turbo charger, which makes huge difference in power and torque.
“The reason Baltic team did not fit turbo was that they thought that the car would spin over on gravel course that Jyvaskyla offered,” he said.
Stages becomes very tough for the second pass as 4-wheel drive turbo cars dig up everything creating big ruts making it very difficult for the 2-wheel drive cars to go through it.
“We also hit a big rock at the high speed which had rolled in the ruts formed by the powerful cars and I picked up the puncture, which cost me three minutes,” Takale said.
Leg-2 will prove to be an acid test for man and machine with eight more Special Stages to be run, covering a competitive distance of 142.86 Kms.
The final day on Sunday will be most spectacular with past and present champions going all the way.