History is in the making when Ho Sittikun and his co-drivers Som Sokosal and Vong Kim Huoth rev up their Black Toyota Tundra pick-up as Cambodia’s first four-wheel racers at the start of the 2014 Asia Cross Country rally from Thailand’s coastal city of Pattaya this Saturday.
The 2,200km Thailand-Cambodia rally, regarded as a gruelling test of courage and endurance for both man and the machine, ends on August 15 in Kampong Speu, with the participants making another short trip the same day to Phnom Penh for the awards ceremony.
The three-member team is the first from the Kingdom to go on an automobile adventure at this highly competitive level, raising the profile of the Cambodian Motor Sport Federation (CMSF), which was formed just over two years ago. The Asia Cross Country Rally, first held in 1996, is an international status event sanctioned by both the FIA and FIM, with eight competitive selective sections and 15 road sectors across Thailand and Cambodia.
After the mandatory Bira Circuit scrutiny, the 22 rally cars will be flagged off from Pattaya beach for the first leg to Sakaeo and a special stage within that Thai province.
The rallyists will cross over to Cambodia on August 12 for the Angkor Wat to Battambang section before hitting the home stretch from Battambang to Kampong Speu and Phnom Penh.
Meanwhile, three Cambodians will be among the 16 motorcyclists taking part in the two-wheel competition of the rally, which will run concurrently.
On a sturdy Yamaha WR 450F, Chea Lykheang will be leading the country’s charge for a good spot in the pegging order. Joining Lykheang will be Touch Thach on a KTM 250EXC and Koun Phandara on a 2013 KTM 350EXCF
In a marked departure from the routine end of the rally in Siem Reap like the previous years, the final destination has been moved to the Cambodian capital.
Explaining the rationale behind this move, CMSF President Lt Gen Meach Sophana told the Post: “We wanted the participants to enjoy greater parts of our countryside and experience the diversity of terrain.”
“We are very happy that we have our first four wheel team taking part in this rally. It is a big first step, and we hope this team will a learn a lot from this experience and inspire others,” added Meach Sophana, who is also under secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior.