PUNE: Exactly four months after Sanjay Takale zipped through the rugged terrain in the South Thailand town of Kanchanaburi, Pune’s international rally driver will open his quest for the 2019 rally season at the same town which inspired the British-American epic war movie “The Bridge on the River Kwai”.
“I haven’t committed to any championships for 2019 so far, but it is always good to stay in touch with rally driving and what better place to try out than Thailand,” said Takale of his decision to participate in the TWC Cross Country Rally.
In 2018 Takale became first Indian WRC registered driver to take part in the World Rally Championship’s Rally Finland in the WRC2 category as he decided to pick worthy rallies than commit to the championship through the season.
WORLD RALLY IN OFFING
“This year too I have decided to drive in Rally Finland at Jyvaskyla which offers undulating superfast gravel terrain. And also one or two European Rally Championship rounds,” informed Takale as he landed in Bangkok for the Kanchanaburi Rally.
In this one-off rally in Thailand, Takale will be driving for Delo Sports Team but in a freshly prepared Isuzu utility vehicle with a different co-driver than the one who navigated for him in the 2018 season.
Takale drove in the Four-round Thailand Rally championship with Thanyaphat Meenil as navigator and helped the Thai win the co-drivers’ title even though his chances for drivers’ title were dashed early on following DNF.
For the TWC rally Takale will have Ittipon Simaraks as his co-driver. The Chang Mai-based Simaraks has worked extensively with Japanese driver Takuma Aoki, who lost both his legs during an accident in MotoGP race.
“Simaraks co-drives for Takuma in Asia Cross-Country Rally and has good sense of the terrain in Thailand so I think he will be an asset to me in this rally,” said Takale.
“I have met Takuma many times and am amazed by his grit and love for the sport. He operates accelerator, brake and clutch everything with his hands since his legs are limp after the unfortunate MotoGP accident,” Takale narrated.
FROM MOTOGP TO FOUR-WHEELS
Takuma was Team Honda factory rider in 500cc category with the former world champion Mike Doohan as teammate. Despite losing his legs, Takuma never gave up on motorsports and now drives car and operates everything with hands.
The ceremonial start of the rally is scheduled on Saturday 2 pm Thailand time and most of the rally course will be completed on Sunday.