Fighting fire with fire: Jakarta police combat illegal motorcycle racing by staging legal events

JAKARTA: The race track was alive with the cheers of spectators and the ear splitting sound of revving engines as racers in heavily modified scooters competed against each other.

It had been drizzling all morning, leaving the asphalt track somewhat slippery. But 33-year-old Aden Lintar was undeterred as he rode across the finish line and left his competitors in the dust.

Lintar is an experienced racer and he was very familiar with the 500m stretch of the Jakarta street where the event was held in late January, having raced there numerous times.

The only difference was that this time, he was donning a proper racing suit decked with logos of the company sponsoring him, instead of a pair of worn out jeans and a hoodie jacket. And unlike his previous races, he did not have to worry about being caught by the police.

Up until a few years ago, Lintar used to race illegally on the streets of Jakarta and the surrounding suburbs. Since he was in seventh grade, he had been racing his motorbike for money nearly every weekend, often in the dead of night to avoid the authorities.

He said he lost count of the number of times he was arrested. “We knew that we were breaking the law. We knew we were (racing) illegally,” he told CNA.

“Why illegal racing exists is because there are no facilities,” Lintar explained, adding that during his illegal racing days, there were hardly any places and events where motorcycle enthusiasts like him could compete safely.

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