AXCR 2023: As AXCR 2023 enters the second half in Laos
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Chayapon Yotha moves up to 3rd overall on difficult surfaces while Katsuhiko Taguchi suffers a problem and is now placed 11th
LEG 4, the fourth day of competition in the 2023 Asia Cross Country Rally (AXCR) took place on Thursday 17 August. At Team MITSUBISHI RALLIART Chayapon Yotha (Thailand) / Peerapong Sombutwong (Thailand) in #101 TRITON moved up to 3rd overall. Katsuhiko Taguchi (Japan) / Takahiro Yasui (Japan) in Car 112 lost a lot of time due to a mechanical problem. They finished the first day of the second half of the rally in Laos in 11th overall.
The total distance of Selective Section (SS) 4 was 168.50km. The competitors left their hotel in Ubon Ratchathani in eastern Thailand early in the morning and crossed the border into Laos. The three TRITONs also made their way across the border with the other competitors to the start of the SS. Starting from a point near the Laos-Thai border, the course goes south along the border, then makes a large U-turn to head north towards the finish. The road surfaces were generally dry, but competitors had to pass through muddy terrain in some areas. The drivers were required to take extra care as they passed through many villages during the SS, and the route was also difficult, with a series of river crossings and other difficult places. Like many of the other competing vehicles, the three TRITONs were not immune to mishaps, and each reached the finish with some sort of damage.
Yotha completed this difficult course at a good pace, showing the ability as last year's winner. He set the 3rd fastest time in SS3 and finished the day in 3rd overall. Taguchi put in a good performance to overtake more than 10 cars in the first half of the SS and there were high hopes for further improvement of position in the second half. However, he suffered a mechanical problem in the latter half and finished the SS far behind. Taguchi was 17th in the SS and dropped to 11th overall. He will be looking to make up ground in the final stages of the rally. Meanwhile, Rifat Sungkar (Indonesia) / Chupong Chaiwan (Thailand) struggled on the day's difficult road surfaces. They got stuck on a muddy road and were withdrawn from the day's competition. The duo will now try to restart tomorrow.
For LEG 5, the fifth day of competition on Friday the 18th, an SS with a total distance of 167.82 km is planned. However, it was announced that the second half of the SS would be cancelled and the section would be shortened to 120.76 km due to some areas that would be difficult for vehicles to pass. With only 51.96km of competitive section on the final day, LEG5 will be crucial to go for a top place. The rally will begin at 8.00am with the first starter in the MOTO class (motorcycles).
Comments from Team MITSUBISHI RALLIART team director Hiroshi Masuoka:"The fourth day of the rally has finished. I was told that this was the toughest course in recent years. It was a very challenging course for the cars, with water, big deep holes yet it was high-speed. Chayapon (Yotha) finished in good shape, but Taguchi lost time due to a mechanical problem. We're now investigating the cause. With two days to go, I'm sure there'll be more muddy roads to come, but we'll not give up and fight to the end."
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