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Despite a broken suspension on his Isuzu rally-spec utility vehicles, Pune’s Sanjay Takale managed to put in tremendous effort to make his way through the slippery terrain to bring home a fourth place finish at the Thai Rally.
The rally drivers had to make their way through the tricky dense jungles of Kanchanaburi, which is a town in Southern Thailand. Sanjay Takale was piloting a newly-built Team Delo Sports Isuzu Dmax along with his co-driver Ittipon Simaraks. He was placed overall sixth in the rally, in which he took part to get experience of four-wheel drive ahead of the gruelling European rally season wherein he intends to take part in at least two ERC events in the Baltic region and one WRC, the Rally Finland in Jyvaskyla.
“I think my new navigator struggled to cope with my pace. I drove very aggressively and he was finding it difficult to adjust and relay the pacenotes,” said Takale, who competed in T1 class reserved for pro drivers with heavily tuned-up modified cars. In the T1 category top five finishers were awarded trophies.
Takale began Day two with Stage three where his suspension broke at the six-kilometre mark in the 15-km stage before he lost the route into the jungle.
“We lost more than five minutes in trying to get back on the course as once you get into forest it is very difficult to come back on the same route. Also I think Ittipon was not able to adjust to my pace,” explained Takale.
“We limped through the stage further but reached the service park where we changed the broken rear suspension and the stage later, the 55-km long final stretch was cut down to 20-km due to slippery and dangerous terrain,” said Takale.
On Saturday Takale hurt his leg just above the ankle in the service park. Nonetheless he started well after the ceremonial start and finished second overall in the first stage (SS1). Takale was just two second behind the leader and headed to service park to regroup before SS2—a long jungle stage. SS2 passed through area where Thai Army do combat training and practice jungle warfare.
“As we were about to start the stage heavy rains began, but we drove well in the first 10 kilometres and pushed for the pace but as rain intensified it was too difficult to see ahead and there were many junctions in the jungle,” Takale narrated.
At the 30-km mark Takale’s navigator missed one left tricky turn and the duo lost for about 10 minutes. As the next call did not match they were forced to turn back, only to get lost more as they failed to find way back due to many junctions . There were no tyre Marks of our car due to heavy rain but somehow they managed to get back on route.
Then Takale began driving a bit aggressively to make up for the lost time.
“We hit a big dip at high speed and the car jumped high with the back almost going 70 degree up and the steering wheel lock came off and I realise I was holding the steering. Luckily it was straight road for 100 meters and we managed to brake and avoided getting into a possible accident,” he said.
“I quickly put back the steering wheel on the mount and pressed the lock and we continued the rally. In the next 20-km stretch I had to be very careful with steering wheel and so I kept it pressed down before finishing the stage and heading into transport stage to hotel.