A flourishing finish in the tormenting final 72-kilometre competitive section between Pouk commune and Tani village, gave seasoned Thailand pair of Kittisak Klin-chan and Nattapol Angritthanon, steering a sturdy Toyota Vigo, a well deserved victory in the Asia Cross Country Rally 2012 that concluded in Siem Reap yesterday.
In the two-wheeler rally held concurrently for the first time, Japan’s Yoshio Ikemachi riding a Yamaha WR 400 romped home a winner in spectacular style.
The climax to the five-leg 1,500-kilometre Pattaya to Siem Reap rally went on predictable lines as the Thai pair rode home their four minute advantage with absolute ease and little trouble.
Flagged off first at Pouk around 10am this morning for the final destination, the Thai crew navigated the dry and dipping section in 39 minutes, 47 seconds.
The Japanese crew of Kinya Morikawa and Masahiko Uchida had been hotly pursuing the Thai leaders in what was developing into a two-car battle.
The Japanese team recorded 40:33 in their Landcruiser 80 for the stage but overall they fell short. When the results were finally computed after all the 26 cars in the running showed up, the winning Thai team was credited with an overall timing of 8 hours, 52 minutes and 45 seconds.
‘’It was a huge relief to win. It was tough. It was demanding and the Japanese pair was not far behind.” an ecstatic Kittisak Klinchan told the Post.
For Kinya Morikawa, who had finished second last year with a different co-driver, it was another narrow miss.
“In a competitive stage as compact as the last one, it is hard to make up four minutes. We did our best”, Kinya Morikawa told the Post. The runners-up recorded an overall time of 8 hours, 58 minutes.
The third place was taken by Thai pair of Chamnon On Sri and Cholanat Phopiat in a Mitsubishi Triton. The winners of the first leg timed 9 hours, seven minutes and 38 seconds.
The Indian pair of Sanjay Takle and Musa Sherif, winners of the T2 class last year, ran into a serious suspension problem and were forced to see the journey through. “We were going OK till that suspension trouble pulled us down. We managed to complete the rally and that is a huge satisfaction.” Sanjay Takle told the Post.
Fierce but friendly rivalry between Thailand and Japan spilled over to the two wheeler rally held concurrently. Experienced Japanese rider Yoshio Ikemachi on a Yamaha WR 400 stole the show with his superb skills and consistency. Thailand’s Manoch Adulkaree riding a Honda CRF 250L finished second just 25 seconds behind the winner overall and Hideyuki Fukuoka on a Honda CRF 450X took third spot.
The Japanese rider cleared the last section in 45 minutes, 39 seconds for a five leg timing of 9 hours, six minutes and 31 seconds.
Four Cambodians – Koun Phandara, Chan Daruvath, Chea Peav and Iv Leng – figured in a starting line-up of 20 riders. This was a notable debut for the Cambodians. After remaining in the shadows during the first three legs, the Cambodian quartet came into their own in the home sector.
Chan Daruvath, who was fifth overall going into the Pouk-Tani stage, went into a spin midway and suffered minor injuries, which cost him a probable podium finish. His ranking of 12th was the highest among his fellow competitors.
‘’There were no accidents, no breakdowns. Everything went very well this year. The two-wheeler event was a huge draw and I see tremondous potential for the growth of this sport in Cambodia” Clerk of the Course Visut Sukosi told the Post.
“This year we had a much longer competitive sections in Cambodia than in previous years. There was a slight change in the route path but we keep looking for more demanding terrain” he said.
“We are extremely happy that four Cambodian contestants took part in the two-wheeler section. They performed well in the last three sections and one of them just missed out on the podium finish while another one who had a good chance met with a slight mishap,” Secretary- General of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia Vath Chamreoun told the Post.
“Though we had no Cambodian crew competing in the four-wheeler section this year; I am hopeful we can find Cambodian competitors next year.” said Vath Chamroeun, who presented every competitior a medal of honour in both the four wheels and the two wheels categories.
The rally was co-sponsored by the Thai and Cambodian motor sport federations. The National Olympic Committee of Cambodia played a huge role in providing logistical support for the event. Later at a colourful function replete with Cambodian cultural touch at the rally headquarters – the City Angkor Hotel – the Minister of Tourism and President of NOCC Thong Khon distributed prizes to the podium finishers.
To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at [email protected]