Maruti Suzuki Autoprix: Calm, poised and raring to drive

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Pune’s veteran rally driver Sanjay Takale is a known figure on the Indian motorsports circuit.

The 49-year-old is amongst the few Indians to participate in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) on a regular basis.

In 2013, Takale won the APRC Production Cup, and currently, he is representing the CUSCO team along with New Zealand driver, Michael Young. Now, his daughter Sanjana Takale and niece Nikita Takale are also fascinated with the thrill of motorsports.

At the recently concluded Maruti Suzuki Autoprix at Shatrunjay Road, Bibwewadi Kondhwa road, both tried their hands on the dirt track and were excited with their performances as they finished winner and runner-up in the Pro Mod Junior (under 18 years old) segment. It was an open event and any cars were allowed to participate in the junior category.

“It was a first-time experience for me. I am a new learner and never drove a car in any competitive event. So I was thrilled. I have seen my father driving the car, but watching as a spectator is different and the feel of that adrenaline rush after getting behind the wheel is different. I totally enjoyed the moment,” said Sanjana.


Obviously, she received some valuable tips from her experienced father.

“The first thing he told me is that winning or losing is not important, just go there enjoy, follow the rules and finish the track. Since it was my first drive, I did not expect a podium finish, but he told me to be calm and not over-aggressive. The calmer you are the better you perform, he told me,” said Sanjana.

Interestingly, Sanjana was driving a Toyota Fortuner, a typical SUV that she found it a bit difficult to handle on the short corners. At one point she lost control and went off track slightly, before quickly recovering.

“Actually, I was sweating and wasn’t wearing the gloves and while taking a sharp turn my hands slipped from the steering wheel and the car went straight ahead. It was a learning experience for me,” she said.

Studies and racing
When asked whether she plans to participate in open circuit rides in the future, she said, “I need to participate in such closed-circuit autoprix and then I will take a call. It won’t be a career option for me. I will participate as a hobby only,” said Sanjana, who is currently doing her BBA in MIT, Kothrud and then plans to do an MBA.

“Of course, one plan we have in our mind is to participate in an event where I would be driving and my dad will be my navigator. I am looking forward to that,” she said.

Meanwhile, Nikita, the daughter of Sanjay’s brother Nitin, was equally thrilled and announced that she would like to become a rally driver just like her uncle. She finished first while driving Hyundai Creta.

“I was initially confused while watching the cones and the track. Later on, I decided to pay more attention to completing the race,” she said.

“Now I am feeling confident and will try to improve my timing in the next event for sure,” added Nikita, a Class 12 student of Victorious Kids Educares, Kharadi.

Sanjay Takale was present at the venue witnessing his daughter and niece tackling the course.

“They were neat and nice and they followed what I had told them. Sanjana had a bit of a disadvantage with the big car, but both of them finished the event well,” he said.

HINDUSTAN TIMES (NEW DELHI)/TNS

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