AirAsia and AirAsia X flew Show Aikawa and his team to the Asia Cross Country Rally 2011 recently. The driver speaks on the challenges of racing across some of the toughest terrains in Asia.
Tell us a little bit about the Asia Cross Rally or AXCR.
The Asia Cross Country Rally (AXCR), is an FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) certified event, in compliance with the Standard Regulations for Cross Country Rallies. It began in 1996 and is now in its 15th year. The race is designed to cover many types of terrain like jungles, swamps river-crossings and deserts. Over the past years, the AXCR has included almost every kind of challenge that nature has to offer in these parts of the world, where the man and machine have to work in tandem to battle the elements.
This year, the rally ran from August 6 to 10 and covered a distance of approximately 1,800kms. It started from Pattaya in Thailand and ended at Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
How did you get involved in this rally?
I already owned a rally team when I learnt about the AXCR. My team is called Show Aikawa World Rally Team. The team members too heard about the AXCR and wanted to hone their rally skills by taking on new challenges. We wanted to improve on our techniques and better our skills. For this to happen, we trained in two new TOYOTA FJ Cruisers. The team was also lucky to have co-driver and coach Fumio Nutahara, the multiple Japanese Rally and Asia Pacific Rally champion.
How many AXCR have you participated in and what were they like?
This was our first year in the rally and the experience was amazing. It wasn’t easy though, and at many instances, I wondered if we were going to make any headway in the race. But this experience got us all excited and now we are looking forward to next year’s rally.
What has been the most challenging race so far?
The most challenging race I have ever experienced was the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. This is an annual automobile and motorcycle hill climb to the summit of Pikes Peak in Colorado, a distance of 19.99kms over 156 turns, climbing 1,439 metres from the start at Mile 7 on Pikes Peak Highway at 2,862 metres on grades averaging 7% over both gravel and paved sections.
Give us some insights into the AXCR 2011 from Pattaya to Angkor Wat.
This rally is very different from what I have done in Japan. From the quality of soil and the gasoline used to the traffic regulations, it was a series of challenges. In addition, I also found the food new and difficult to digest.