The 27th Asia Cross Country Rally, the toughest rally in Asia, is back with a 1700+ km track, starting from Thailand to the finish line in Cambodia this November 21-26.

Leg 1

Leg 1 (SS2) features the longest stage of the event with over 200 km
Chayapon at 1st place for both overall and SS2, and Rifat at 8th overall

With the excitement of the ceremonial start held the day before at Thailand's Chang Arena still fresh, the team entered a full-scale stage on November 22, the second day of the event. SS2 in Leg 1 was a 203.50 km course, starting in Khonburi and ending in Nong Bon. SS2 is considered to be the longest and toughest stage of the event. The stage kicked off with the motorcycle category followed by the car category. From Team Mitsubishi Ralliart, Chayapon in car #105 started in 5th position, with Rifat in car #118 starting in 6th.

The first challenges that drivers encountered were the countless potholes and ruts in the rough road surfaces, as well as tight corners. SS2 was a test of all-around performance, with long tarmac roads and rough roads typical of cross country rallies, and a mix of technical and high-speed sections.

With the loss of one of the three cars on the first day, team director Hiroshi Masuoka was replanning his strategy. However, the team was cheered up by the great performance of Chayapon in car #105. In SS1 on the previous day, Chayapon performed well on tarmac road and finished in 5th place. Today, at checkpoint 1 (CP1), he overtook three vehicles and came in 2nd place. At the last checkpoint, he was the first to cross the finish line, overtaking all of the motorcycles that had started earlier than the car category, and placed 1st in SS2 with the official record of 2:50:18.

Rifat in car #118, who started the day in 6th position, suffered a flat tire in a struggle with another car on a rocky terrain at the 15-km point before the CP1 time control. He continued without changing the tire and managed to pass CP1 with a wrecked wheel and brake. At the service area, the suspension, brake, tire and wheel were changed, and Rifat rejoined the race without a rear shock absorber.

"Don't worry about the time. Just prioritize to come back safely to the service tent, and the team will make sure that the car will be ready for SS3 tomorrow," said team director Masuoka to Rifat.

Rifat managed to finish in 8th place. "Even though the tire and suspension were damaged, I was able to make it to the finish line. Triton is really tough and the strongest," commented Rifat.

"SS2 is the longest stage and the one where you can gain the most time advantage, so Chayapon's advantage has made pacing and strategy planning easier for the next stages. Rifat has lost some time due to damage, but he is still within range and can make up for it. We have just started, so I have high expectations for the team," concluded team director Masuoka.

Chayapon will start SS3 tomorrow with an advantage of 4 min 7 sec.