Sam Pisal is one of countless youngsters who can be seen daily speeding around on
a noisy motorbike along the capital's streets, weaving recklessly in and out of traffic.
Ask him if he has ever had an accident and he will say "several times",
but driving fast is a "desire" for him.
Neither fear nor his parents' objections can prevent him from engaging in this dare-devil
hobby. And his goal of being a winner was recently realized when he netted a $500
first prize in the Mild Seven Cambodia Motorcycle Grand Prix.
Round 1 of the event was held at the Old Stadium, opposite Funcinpec party headquarters,
on Jan 12.
"I was not afraid when I was going really fast. To be the winner was the only
thing [I had] in my mind," Pisal, 15 years old, said.
"My parents disagreed with my taking part in the race, but I told them I will
never forget school," Pisal, an 11th grade student at Preah Sisowath school,
He was cheered and hugged by his friends after he beat off Long Pisei, another contender,
in the Yamaha-100 cc category race.
When the starter's flag went down, Long Pisei led the pack, but he soon lost control
while jockeying to by-pass hurdles of sand-bags set up on the track.
The opportunity was thus opened for Pisal to capture the lead, leaving Pisei and
three other racers behind. He managed to maintain his position, and the gap between
him and his competitors widened until he rounded the last lap.
"Pisei fell and I took that advantage - that was the chance for overtaking him.
I just kept accelerating, I didn't allow him to catch up [with me]," Pisal said.
He was awarded a cash-prize of $500, while Pisei who finished second received $300.
Pisal also said he looked forward to becoming the winner in Round 5 set for May 18.
Rounds 2, 3 and 4 will be held in Siem Reap, Kompong Cham and Battambang provinces
respectively. Winners of all four events will gather at the Old Stadium in Phnom
Penh to compete in the Round 5 Grand Finale , according to a Mild Seven press release.
At the end of Round 1, a prize of $300 went to Frenchman Pierre-Yves Catry who finished
first in dirt-bike 125cc competition.
Catry was more enthusiastic about the event itself than the cash prize and said that
he took part in the event to promote motorcross.
"We are still riding in the countryside. Motorcross is too early in Cambodia
because [cross country bikes are] expensive. Anyway, we're trying to promote it,"
In October last year, he and his Cambodian pals went on a joyride in Kompong Chhnang
province and ended up being taken hostage by the KR.
They were later released and are now embarking on a journey to Mondulkiri through
Kompong Cham and Kratie provinces.
Defection of KR forces to the government will make the trip safer, Catry said, adding,
however, that his team would remain careful not to run into a similar incident.
About 20 motorbikes will take part in the rally which will take more than 10 hours
to complete, he said.