Takale clinches Production Cup title in APRC

Pune, Oct 1 (IANS) Amassing insurmountable points, Sanjay Takale (co-driver Sean Gregory) has won the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) Production Cup title on conclusion of the Rally Hokkaido in Japan.

Driving his Subaru Impreza Dreams India car, Takale bounced back after having crashed out in the last round in Malaysia, to finish second behind Gaurav Gill of Team MRF Sunday. The penultimate round of APRC, however, was the last for Takale as he had notified at the start of the season that he would skip the season-ending China Rally (Nov 2-3).

In the five rounds, Takale came out empty-handed only from Malaysia, but scored points at every other round in New Zealand, New Caledonia, Australia and Japan for an aggregate of 151.5 points, well ahead of his nearest Production Cup class competitor Hiroshi Asakura (Takumi Takahashi) who has 74 points.

Asakura will be competing in the season-ending China Rally after having skipped the Round 2 in New Caledonia, but maximum he can earn there is 39 points, while the gap between him and Takale is 77.5.

Takale was home in 2 hours 56 minutes 50.8 seconds in his MRU Motorsports-backed Subaru while Gill was much faster and finished in 2:26.26.2. Though there were 10 more drivers finishing between Gill and Takale, all were either Asia Cup or Japanese National championship competitors.

"It was a fight fair and square. We won the Production Cup title beating Asakura on his own home ground. We were well-prepared for the Rally Hokkaido and decided not to commit Hara Kiri in Japan," said Takale Tuesday.

Gill leads the APRC overall standings after he won the Rally Hokkaido with 117.5 points while Takale is second at 104 points after earning 29 points from Japan.

New Zealand's young driver Michael Young is No.3 at 92 points, while Gill's teammate Esapekka Lappi, who crashed out in Japan after he broke suspension of his car in the SS9, is at No.4 with 78.

Takale is also in contention for the Asia Cup title. He is currently fifth overall in Asia Cup with two drivers tied for the second place. Defending champion Yuya Sumiyama (46) and Young (46) are tied for second place behind Shuhei Muta (68). The third and final round of Asia Cup will be Rally Thailand set to be held Dec 7-8.

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