World Rally-Raid Championship

2024 Asia Cross Country Rally cancels Malaysia stretch, staying in Thailand

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Credit: Carper

After originally planning to start in Thailand and end in Malaysia, the 2024 Asia Cross Country Rally will instead stay exclusively in the former country in the wake of vairous bombings in southern Thailand.

“With recent developments at the border, the Thai authorities have identified safety of the convoy would be at risk,” reads a statement from race officials. “Ensuring the safety and security of all participants, attendees, staff, and supporting authorities involved in AXCR is of the organiser’s utmost priority. After careful consideration and consultation, we have concluded that the prudent course of action is to cancel the Malaysia leg event.”

Southern Thailand has been the site of an ongoing insurgency rooted in ethnic, religious, and political tensions and going back decades; predominantly Malay and Muslim, the region became part of Thailand following the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909. Consequently, secessionist movements in the region consisting of such demographics sprung up before militant action escalated in 2004.

While the Thai government under Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin began peace talks with one such group, the Barisan Revolusi Nasional, in February, various incidents have occurred in the south since. A wave of arson attacks occurred across the region on 22 March, killing a migrant worker, though a perpetrator was not identified. Narathiwat Province, although not on the original race route, was hit by bomb blasts on 29 April and 6 May that injured four in each, the latter including two Malaysian tourists.

Malaysia deployed units from its General Operations Force to the border in early May to “restore the public’s confidence in national security,” while Thailand has stressed negotiations with the BRN will continue. Nonetheless, out of safety, the AXCR will be a Thailand-only event.

Original route (left), revised route (right)
Credit: Asia Cross Country Rally

Surat Thani will still host the first stage, though the rally will then proceed deeper into Thailand instead of south towards Malaysia. Hua Hin and Kanchanaburi, the latter roughly 130 kilometres from the capital of Bangkok, will also welcome the rally. The original route ran through the Thai cities of Trang and Hat Yai before crossing the border between Sadao and Bukit Kayu Hitam, then went past Malaysia’s Penang and Ipoh to finish in its capital Kuala Lumpur.

2024 is the first AXCR to just take place in one country since Thailand did so in 2017. It was also the lone host nation in 2005, from 2007 to 2010, and 2015.

Takuma Aoki is the defending overall winner. The 2023 edition kicked off in Pattaya, Thailand, and concluded in Pakse, Laos.

2024 Asia Cross Country Rally route

1Surat ThaniSurat Thani12 August
2Surat ThaniHua Hin13 August
3Hua HinHua Hin14 August
4Hua HinKanchanaburi15 August
5KanchanaburiKanchanaburi16 August
6KanchanaburiKanchanaburi17 August
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