Indian rider Rajiv closes in top 10 in AP250 practice at Suzuka
Armed with their Suzuka 4-hour endurance race experience a fortnight ago, IDEMITSU Honda Racing India team’s riders Rajiv Sethu and Senthil Kumar showed massive improvement in the 3 practices of Round 4 of FIM Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) in Suzuka today.
In his 3rd year at ARRC, Rajiv has come of age. In FP1, his best lap time of 2:30:826 was just a mere 1 second off from lead rider Andy Fadly in the first practice. Overall in 3 FP sessions, Rajiv closed in Top 10 riders with his lap time of 2:30:826. If the first 3 rounds of the AP250 class are anything to go by, Rajiv is now a serious competitor. With increased confidence on track, machine understanding and fitness, Rajiv has climbed 14 ranks from his 2018 season position of 28th to 14th rank with 22 points already in his kitty in the three rounds of 2019 championship till now.
Today was a positive day for the rookie rider Senthil too. – the rookie 18-year-old rider reduced his lap time by over1 second between FP1, FP2 and FP3 and finished 24th with lap time of 2:34:302.
After yesterday rains, Suzuka’s tarmac proved to be a tricky one today and Indonesian riders ruled the top 3 positions in today’s combined practice. While Andy Muhammad Fadly was fastest at 2:28:450, following him was Astra Honda’s Irfan Ardiansyah (2:29:382) and R. Chrisantho Ratukore (2:29:480).
With its combination of chicanes and straights, Suzuka is the most technical high-speed track of championship. With top 10 riding within 2 seconds gap today, tomorrow’s battle will undoubtedly be the toughest in championship till now. Even one mistake will prove to be costly for riders and making the battle more intense are 7 home-grown wild card entries, taking the total rider tally to 32 across Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam Taipei, and India.
Quote from Mr. Prabhu Nagaraj, Vice President – Brand and Communications, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India Pvt. Ltd.
“Rajiv and Senthil are more confident after their Suzuka 4-hour endurance race experience a fortnight ago. Today was the first time Rajiv finished in top 4 in any practice. He was able to deliver what we expected and the we are confident for tomorrow. With all top 10 riders fighting in 2 seconds gap, the competition is tough, but we aim for top 10 finish tomorrow. Rajiv is in full form and after riding with top bunch for the first time in Buriram, he is primed to better his previous best. As the youngest rider from India to graduate into ARRC in shortest time, we look forward to seeing strong performance by Senthil.”
Quote of IDEMITSU Honda Racing India rider Rajiv Sethu:
“Today, my strategy was to experiment with bike set-up in each practice. Riding alone for first half of each practice made me more confident of track. Thereon, riding with fast riders, I could match their aggression. Finishing in top 4 for the first time in any practice, I feel really confident. Despite the rain forecast tomorrow, I target to start in top 2 rows in morning qualifier which will help me compete with top riders and finish in Top 10 and win points for India.”
Quote of IDEMITSU Honda Racing India rider Senthil Kumar:
“Today, the track was tricky with both wet and dry sections. The CBR250RR is a far superior bike and I can push much more. Unlike India where only the top bunch is close, here the fight happens in each group. Compared to the season start, I’m now challenging myself to fight in the group and correct my previous mistakes. In Suzuka, I have shaved off 1.6 seconds between my practice. Tomorrow, I will fight back to finish in top 15.”
Parallelly in ASB1000cc class, Malaysian rider Zaqhwan Zaidi of Honda Asia-Dream Racing with SHOWA team was in full form. His best lap time of 2:09:874 put him first in the 16 rider grid.