IDEMITSU Honda Racing India team had a tough outing on day 1 at Sepang International Circuit. Riders Rajiv Sethu and Senthil Kumar’s first race outing in Round 6 of FIM Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) didn’t go as per plan. Rajiv Sethu clocked a lap time of 2:27:617, which put him in the Top 15 riders who were competing in the 2 second gap. Starting the race 1 from the 5th Row, Rajiv had high hopes of catching up the front pack. But, his hopes suffered a blow as he suffered a fall at Turn 11 of lap 2.
18 Year old Senthil, on the other hand had a progressive day. He clocked his personal best lap time of 2:29:612. Senthil showed his mettle in the afternoon race, climbing 5 positions from 22nd on the starting grid to finish 17th. The team will return tomorrow with top 10 and 15 finish target yet again. The race 1 saw battle start from the word go and ended at the chequered flag. While the afternoon race saw 3 crashes, it was once again the Honda riders who notched up all 3 podium positions. Completing the podium today were Indonesian rider Irfan Ardiansyah from Astra Honda (1st), Muklada Sarapuech (2nd) and Rafid Topan Sucipto (3rd) all crossing the chequered flag in a mere 0.261 gap.
Mr. Prabhu Nagaraj, Vice President – Brand and Communications, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India Pvt. Ltd. “Not having a good qualifying position, the challenge was to recover this in the afternoon race. We were confident that with a good start, Rajiv would catch the bunch in lap 2. Its very unfortunate that he had a highside, but given his minor injury, I look forward to a good fight in tomorrow’s race. Overall, Senthil is consistently bettering his lap time in his every track outing. Today, while a bad start dragged him down, his fight to maintain position enriched his learning.
Now its time to understand where we can get an advantage, analyse everything and do better tomorrow. Our target still remains the same – top 10 for Rajiv and closer to top 15 for Senthil and we are ready to give it our all.”
Words from Rajiv Sethu:
Today, the competition was really tough here. All top 15 riders were competing in 2 seconds. In the morning qualifier, I couldn’t start with a fast group and could do better than the 15th finish. In afternoon race, I made a good start and maintained my spot in top 15 even when 20 of us were fighting in front bunch. However, I made a cornering mistake while pushing hard in turn 11 of lap 2. This resulted in a highside and crash thereon. Today was a set-back for sure. But the only saving grace is that I got-off with just a minor sprain and can ride tomorrow. Overall, I am confident of my machine setting and my target still remains Top 10.”
Words from Senthil Kumar:
“A bad start cost me 2 positions. But I overtook 3 riders in turn 1 of lap 1 itself to climb to 21st. But with Rajiv crashing just before me in lap 2, I had to slow down to avoid crash. In the process, the gap between the bunch increased and I was riding alone after that. It was finally in the penultimate lap that Sawapol overtook me, but I reversed it mid-lap itself. The chase continued in last lap too, with Sawapol cutting me in turn 2 and me returning the favour in turn 4 to finally finish 0.162 seconds before him. Tomorrow, I have to ensure a good start, stick with the bunch and fight harder. Today was time to defend, and I did it in the best way I could while staying calm and avoiding mistake.