IN an electric finish to the first supercross challenge ever staged in Indochina,
Paul Lindsey of the United States narrowly defeated the hot favorite, Kohji Tsujimoto
of Japan, by a wheel-length in the decisive race.
"The key to winning against Tsujimoto was getting a good start and then holding
him off for twelve laps," said Lindsey, after clinching the championship at
Olympic Stadium on Apr 7. "It took a lot of practice and concentration for me
to win here today."
Although the American went into the 125CC class final trailing the Japanese by three
points, Race Director Teik Lee Ooi declared Lindsey the champion after both riders
ended the tournament deadlocked at 37 points apiece.
The twelfth and final race also marked the first time the two faced one another in
"Tsujimoto was the best driver in the field," added Lindsey. "I just
Throughout the Shell-Mild Seven Cambodia Supercross '96, Lindsey was a picture of
quiet and steady professionalism - quite a contrast from the rawness and brash confidence
exuded by his younger and lesser experienced rival.
Lindsey, 27, from Colorado Springs - a motorcrosser since the age of seven - often
paced the sidelines during the two-day contest, studying the stratagems and tactics
of his opponents in the field.
A solitary figure donning only the bottom-half of his racing leathers in between
races, Lindsey resembled a post-atomic gladiator from a Mad Max film set.
"When I'm racing, I definitely feel fear all the time," he said. "What's
most important is how I control it."
However, Tsujimoto, 23, who has been motorcrossing for ten years, said: "I never
think about being afraid, but I do recognize the dangers."
Whereas Lindsey executed his aerial maneuvers with deft efficiency and brilliant
precision - consistently covering a distance of ten meters in flight - Tsujimoto's
fearlessness seemed to know no bounds.
The enfant terrible tore around the 500 meter track at an average time of 32 seconds
per lap, it was officially reported. At times, the Japanese launched into the perilous
"Table-Top" and "Double" jumps with the insouciance of a reckless
and arrogant genius.
As he came hurtling over the top, for a split-second Tsujimoto appeared to be suspended
in mid-air. To the delight of the estimated 25,000 spectators, he would either wave
to the crowd or feign that he was going to crash nose first. He would even shake
the tail end of his 90 kilo motorcycle like a temptress swiveling her hips.
Despite the tournament getting off to a bumpy start - a no-show by First Prime Minister
Prince Norodom Ranariddh on Apr 6, for instance, delayed the start of the tourney
by two hours - its organizers deemed it a major success.
"Considering we brought over 20 drivers from so many countries, it is no mean
feat," said James Ong, retail manager for Shell Cambodia. "This tournament
was six or seven months in the making."
Plans were also underway to promote motorcross clinics in order to encourage young
Cambodians to stay off the streets, he added.
Supercrossing is the next step up from motorcrossing, but requires a lot more skill,
said Ong, because it is so physically demanding.
"This challenge represents an endorsement from the sponsors that Cambodia is
a safe place in which to invest," he added, "In the drivers, we have 20
goodwill ambassadors, who will go back to their respective countries saying that
Cambodia is not as bad as people have made it out to be."
One such person was Sandy Orsmond of South Africa, who demonstrated that supercross
racing is not necessarily a preserve of macho men. "I may not have the physical
stamina of some of the male drivers," she said, "but at least I've got