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TEAM MITSUBISHI RALLIART, with technical support from Mitsubishi Motors, recently won the Asia Cross Country Rally (AXCR) 2022 competition that ran from Nov. 21 to 26 in Thailand and Cambodia. Aboard Triton/Strada rally cars (Group T1 prototype cross-country vehicles). The event was held across a total distance of 1,524 kilometers (km), including 637 km of timed special stages. Driver Chayapon Yotha of Thailand finished in first place overall, with a total time of eight hours, 22 minutes and 42 seconds, and driver Rifat Sungkar of Indonesia finished in fifth position — 17 minutes and 14 seconds behind the leader.
After a three-year absence, the AXCR got under way in Buriram in the northeastern part of Thailand, where the first special stage of the rally and a ceremonial start were held. Leg 1 on the 22nd to Leg 3 on the 24th included the special stages held in the harsh terrain of Buriram. Leg 4 on the 25th saw the rally event cross the border into Cambodia, while Leg 5 on the 26th ended near Angkor Wat, the famed tourist attraction in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
The first half of the rally in Thailand consisted mainly of high-speed stages on rough, dry unpaved roads, while the second half was more challenging with large, deep puddles scattered on muddy roads caused by heavy rain, and a tougher course compared to the previous five stages awaited the participants in Cambodia.
Chayapon Yotha, driving the car #105 Triton/Strada, finished fifth in Special Stage 1 on the first day. On the second day, he set the fastest time in Special Stage 2 — at 203 kilometers the longest of this year’s stages — and climbed to the top overall position. After that, the powerful driving performance and nimble handling of the Triton/Strada helped him to finish Special Stage 3 in seventh, Special Stage 4 in sixth, Special Stages 5 and 6 in fifth, and he maintained the lead he established in Special Stage 2 to take the overall win.
Rifat Sungkar in car #118 finished Special Stage 1 in sixth place, but suffered a flat tire and subsequent damage to the chassis in Special Stage 2 — dropping him to eighth position. The team’s repair work allowed him to continue the rally the next day, and he finished fourth in Special Stage 3, fifth in Special Stage 4, fourth in Special Stage 5, and seventh in Special Stage 6, completing the rally fifth overall. Sakchai Hantrakul in car #119 tested positive for COVID-19 after Special Stage 1, and unfortunately had to retire from the rally. Said Hiroshi Masuoka, team director of Team Mitsubishi Ralliart, “For this year’s AXCR, we built on the reliability and durability of the Triton/Strada tuning the engine and chassis, and entered the rally with specifications relatively close to the production car. Even so, the two Triton/Strada rally cars delivered and I am very proud of our strong finish.”