The 207.26km SS, the longest of this year's rally, was prepared for the second day. MOTO left Tarawadee Resort Hotel at 6:45 a.m. and arrived at the starting point for today's selective stage (SS2) after a 108.1-km road section, starting at 9:05 a.m. with 1-minute intervals. An hour later, AUTO also started out at 2-minute intervals. The starting order was determined by the time of the next day's SS.
The SS for today alternated between farm roads through vast fields and dirt roads along the sides of rivers. The route was a pleasant ride through the farmland, but then it hit the jungle, turned at a right angle to a farm road that ran along the side of the jungle and then went through the fields again with a clearer view. This was combined with flat dirt roads along the sides of rivers.
Like yesterday, a passage control (PC) was set up in the middle of the SS, but the course conditions were almost the same throughout the first and second halves. The farm roads were basically dry, hard, uneven, and covered with fluffy sand in places, making it very difficult to get slick traction.
The sand was very deep in several places, and AUTO reported that many MOTO were stuck and some were unable to recover and slumped to the ground.
Although the roads beside the rivers were flat and easy to drive on, there were sometimes hidden deep dips which if passed without slowing down would cause the entire machine to vibrate violently in some cases causing serious problems such as breaking the suspension.
According to Satoshi Takeno of #128 Garage Monchi & Yanagawa iron works JAPIND who was competing with his small Jimny, "It was like we were being tested to the limit of our machine endlessly", and the course conditions were extremely challenging as they were yesterday.
Under such circumstances, many competitors pointed out that there was a point in the first half section of SS1 yesterday where they were forced to drive in both directions on the course, and the organizers conducted two rounds of driving investigation on the facts. As a result, we have concluded that there was in fact a mistake and at the athletes' briefing after dinner today. The person in charge official said, "I am truly sorry. This is the first time in the history of Asian Cross Country." The audience was surprised for a moment and then broke into applause.
As a result, the times, and penalties for the first half section of SS1 were invalidated and the rankings changed drastically from yesterday's provisional results. So today, I would like to report the overall standings (over all standings) which is the result of the times of SS1 and SS2 combined.
In the MOTO category, Jakkrit Chawtale (THA) of the #17 JC DIRT SHOP Rally Team on a KTM 500 EXC-F is still in first place. However, #1 Hironori Nishimura of Team Japan (JPN) on a Husqvarna TE 250 i was promoted to 2nd place and Shinichi Yamada of Team OTOKONAKI (JPN) on a #10 Husqvarna FE 450 was in 3rd place.
These three riders were the only ones with times under 7 hours overall, and they were far ahead of the fourth-place finishers.
In the AUTO category, the #102 TOYOTA GAZOO RACING THAILAND team of Jaras Jaengkamolkulchai (THA) and Sinopong Trairat (THA) in the Hilux Revo took the overall lead in 5 hours 24 minutes 08 seconds. This was followed by the Isuzu D-MAX team of #110 Suwat Limjirapinya (THA) and Prakob Chaothale (THA) about 20 seconds.
In third place was the #105 TOYOTA GAZOO RACING INDONESIA team of Takuma Aoki (JPN), Ittipon Simaraks (THA), and Songwut Danphiphattrankoon (THA) who are competing with three Toyota Fortuner. The gap to the leader was only 52 seconds. The elimination of the penalty in the first half of the race allowed them to regain their position to challenge for the win.
The defending champion #101 Team MITSUBISHI RALLIART team of Chayapon Yotha (THA) and Peerapong Sombutwong (THA), driving the new Triton, moved up to 4th place. The gap to Aoki in 3rd place was only 8 seconds.
In 5th place was the Toyota Fortuner of Tubagus Moerinsyahdi (IDN) and Jatuporn Burakitpachai (THA) in #121 TOYOTA GAZOO RACING INDONESIA which had switched classes from T2D to T1D at the last minute inspection. The team's machine with only minor modifications was running steady and without making any mistakes and they are in a great position to aim for the top positions.
The time difference between the first and fifth places was only 1 minute and 8 seconds!
In 6th place was Ditsapong Maneein (THA) and Athikij Srimongkhol (THA) of the #115 Isuzu Suphan Explorer Liqui Moly Rally Team in the Isuzu D-MAX which was the provisional leader yesterday. They were only 5 minutes 41 seconds behind the leader.
The top 5 AUTO, including Ikuo Hanawa (JPN) and Hirokazu Somemiya (JPN) of #103 TOYOTA GAZOO RACING INDONESIA, the Toyota Fortuner that set the fastest time on the day were presented with awards and cash prizes by YOKOHAMA Rubber.
Tomorrow, the contestants will travel 150km north from the city of Surin to the city of Ubon Ratchathani after a 179.63km SS. In the AUTO, the top teams' times are balanced, and the results will be closely watched as this is an important battle to conclude the first half of the season in Thailand.
National highways in Thailand are wide. After passing through urban areas and living areas for a short while, you will be driving while looking out over a vast expanse of green land (mainly plantations) on both sides of you. Although the road is wide, the driving lanes are surprisingly vague, and one often wonders, "Is this OK? The second day of the competition began with the start of SS2.
On the second day of the AXCR, the first motorcycle left the hotel at 6:00 a.m. on such a road to the starting point of SS2, and it took about two hours for all 20 motorcycles to move along the road.
The MOTO Photo Crew started from the hotel an hour before the first bike and headed for PC, the midway point of SS2 (about 100 km from the SS start point). From there, they entered the SS route in reverse, looking at the scenery and picturing the bikes as they rode, searching for a photo point that they thought would be "somewhere around here.
By the time the first bike started in SS2, the media driver's car was pulled over to the side of the road (usually in the shade of a tree), and all we could do was just wait.
After about 2 hours, the top rider finally passed in front of us, and we thought that the following cars would be coming in one after another, but the next two bikes that appeared were about 30 minutes behind the leader. And after that, it was about the same.
It seemed that the interval between the next bikes on this route was much longer than in previous years. After the goal, we talked to some of the riders, and they told us that "the frame chart was tricky again today.
In rallies, there are times when teams and friends work together to prepare for "what ifs," and there are others who trust only in themselves and proceed without hesitation. The difference seemed to be greatly influenced by the "character" of the panel chart, and it appeared that as on the first day, the reading of the panel chart, or the "character" of the route creator, did not match any of the riders (and drivers for that matter).
A rally is only as good as its route book. Belief in it is a prerequisite. That is why I think I could sense the "stress" from the riders' words. ......
Nevertheless, the driving surface (dirt road) seemed to be in good condition today, and there were no slippery scenes, large puddles, or changes in the appearance of the soil brought about by the so-called "water. This would mean that the pace and risks would increase at the same time. This is one of the reasons why the AXCR is held during the rainy season.
Several riders had their tires changed after the finish on the second day when they had originally planned to do so on the third day. When the soil was loose, truck and tractor tires stepped on it when it was raised and dried and the hardened Thai red soil scraped the tires mercilessly.
Then, somewhat unbelievably, there was the story of ...... where potato seedlings had been planted on the course and the path had been lost. This is a truth that only those who have run the race can understand.
Incidentally, the only sidecar had trouble on the second day. It got stuck in the sand and overspun its rear wheels during ejection, burning out its clutch plate which was brought in by a sweeper truck. Needless to say, the three members of the sidecar team worked late that night. ......