Pune: Years of toil on grueling terrains from Asia-Pacific to European courses has finally come to fruition for Pune’s international rally driver Sanjay Takale, who next weekend will make his World Rally Championship debut in WRC-3 category, at the Neste Rally Finland.
The plan had been in place for a few years, but logistics of having a WRC rally-spec car in place took time. At the start of 2018 when Takale decided to take a break from the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, which in 2012 propelled him onto the international stage, it was a conscious decision that fast-tracked his preparations for WRC.
“I decided to focus on Europe and rallies elsewhere on varied terrains that could offer more challenge than getting tied up with a championship,” Takale told Sakal Times in an interview referring to his five years spent in APRC.
Rallies in Iceland and Sweden too helped before he was spotted by the Latvia-based Baltic Motorsports Promotion, who suggested Takale to drive in the rallies in Baltic region specially in Latvia and Estonia—the two countries that are geographically similar to Finland.
Takale will drive in WRC-3 category which will make him first registered Indian rally driver to take part in the pinnacle of world rallying. Fellow Indian Gaurav Gill will also be there in WRC-2 class in a R5-spec Ford Fiesta, but is an unregistered entry.
“First one needs to be regional champion to qualify for WRC and ever since when I became APRC champion in 2013 the plan was set rolling. Baltic Motorsport were just too happy to help me out with a registered car and technical support to participate,” informed Takale.
Takale will drive a Ford Fiesta R2 rally-spec car with British co-driver Darren Garrod as his navigator. Garrod has done a few WRC rallies including the Rally Finland.
“It’s a great joy and I have been working hard for last 8 years in rallying and planning to reach WRC one day,” Takale said.
WRC Rally Finland: Factfile
Date: July 26 to 29
Stages: 23 (317.26 km)
Total distance: 1427.49 km
Stages: Smooth and super fast gravel roads, buried among forests and lakes, are characterised by massive stomach-churning jumps.
Saturday will see almost 143-km of relentless action spanning nearly 16 hours on roads.
Sunday’s finale will have two classic tests—Laukaa and the big jumps of Ruuhimäki.
Speeds are so high that time differences are small and there is little opportunity to regain a mistake.
Event History: Known as the Rally of 1000 Lakes and was included in the WRC calendar in 1973.
The 2016 edition was the fastest rally in WRC history. Kris Meeke won at an average speed of 126.62-kmph.