Novelty, Velocity Attract Hundreds to Race

Some Phnom Penh residents got their first look at “little racing cars” Sunday, when Caltex sponsored the first international go-kart race held in Phnom Penh.

Hundreds of befuddled or be­mused onlookers crowded around a tire-rimmed track, stood on roofs, or sat in trees at Hun Sen park to watch the little ma­chines zip around and around, sometimes with dramatic results. The karts sped, spun and collided, as drivers from Germany, France, England, Cambodia and Thailand competed for trophies all day Sunday.

“It’s exciting,” said Phoeung So­phy, a 47-year-old woman. “They go fast and crash. Some­times I was scared, sometimes excited. When they crash together, I’m worried, but it’s OK be­cause they didn’t get hurt much.”

Though some locals had complained that the road was blocking access to the Tonle Bassac squatter community, Phoeung Sophy, who lives there, said it was no problem.

“It’s just once in awhile,” she said. “And it was on Sunday.”

For Chhay Hoeun, 24, the 30 mi­­nutes he spent watching the race was a novelty.

“I’ve never seen this before,” he said. “It’s exciting; they drive so fast.”

The cars weigh about 70 kg—the same weight a passenger can carry as luggage on airlines—and are powered by two-stroke, 125 cc engines. Scooting on tiny tires, the karts reach speeds as high as 140 km per hour.

The Thais won in overall points, led by ace go-karter Siripanya Deeboonchai, who won all five races in which he competed. Paul Blanche-Horgan, racing for Cam­bo­dia, came in second, followed by Thousten Steinle (Thailand) and then “Superchai,” a Thai na­tion­al driving for Cambo­dia.



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