Rajiv adds points for India once again with a 15th finish in AP 250 Race 1 of Round 4, ARRC
Despite a disappointing qualifier, Race 1 of the 4th round of FIM Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) saw the solo Indian team DEMITSU Honda Racing India add more points on Japanese soil.
Today’s morning qualifier saw Rajiv Sethu qualify 13th with a 5th row start on the grid. Despite a good start, a cornering mistake in turn 16 dragged him to 15th position riding neck to neck with bunch of 4 riders. A quick overtake by Indonesian rider Anggi Setiawan though took him out of the top 15 in Lap 6. But recovering fast, Rajiv overtook Honda’s thai rider Tatkorin Buasri in the penultimate 7th lap to regain his spot in top 15. The last lap was about avoiding any mistake to stay in top 15 and ensure points for India.
Starting 24th on grid, Senthil put up a tough fight. He jumped to 23rd by lap 2, overtook a rider to reach 22nd by lap 3 but was returned to 23rd in lap 6. He maintained this pace till the last corner of the 8 lap race where he crashed and damaged his machine but managed to finish the race.
Meanwhile once again, it was the Indonesian riders who ruled the AP250 podium finish. Creating a significant lead over from start itself, Andy was first to cross the chequered line in 19:59:715 but the battle for 2nd spot raged on till the chequered flag. Astra Honda rider Irfan Ardiansyah (2nd) followed by Reynaldo Christantho (3rd) finally completed the podium.
Quote Mr. Prabhu Nagaraj, Vice President – Brand & Communications, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India Pvt. Ltd.
“Today morning’s qualifier was disappointing for all of us. Our aim was for the top 2 rows but we could manage only 5th row start. Some mistake during Qualifying cost us a good opportunity to better our position. However, Rajiv is consistently in the top 15. Tomorrow, our aim is to gain over the 13th start and enter the top 10 yet again. No doubt, this means a lot of hard work but we are up for the challenge.”
Quote of IDEMITSU Honda Racing India rider Rajiv Sethu:
“My qualifier finish today was a letdown. I was in the top 7 in qualifier but coming back to pit in last 2 minutes was a wrong decision. The other riders got a good slipstream due to which I got pushed back to 13th. In the afternoon race, I overtook 6 riders at the start itself to reach 7th spot. But late braking in hairpin corner of lap 1 pushed me back to second group of 4 riders and it was very difficult to leave them behind. Suzuka being a technical flowing track, I have to keep my cool while improving my race-craft and timing consistently. With today’s learnings, I will push harder and aim for top 10 tomorrow.”
Quote of IDEMITSU Honda Racing India rider Senthil Kumar:
“I got into a rhythm by the 3rd lap and pushed in the 4th lap, but crashed due to rider impact in lap 5, qualifying 24th overall. In the race, I couldn’t make a good start and lost 2 positions but overtook 3 riders in lap 1. Thereafter, I couldn’t stay with the bunch and was fighting till the last lap. But a hit by rider in the last corner of lap 8 resulted in my finishing only 28th.”
With its combination of chicanes and straights, Suzuka is the most technical high-speed track of the championship and just one mistake proves to be costly for riders. The 7 home-grown wild card entries which take the total rider tally to 32 from 7 Asian countries are making the Suzuka battle more intense. Race 2 tomorrow will determine the winner of this critical round mid-way into the season.
In ASB1000cc class, Malaysian rider Zaqhwan Zaidi of Honda Asia-Dream Racing with SHOWA team maintained his winning streak and qualified 1st. In race 1, a wide cornering put the front-runner to 4th but overtaking 2 riders he finished 2nd.