With speed and aggression, Honda’s solo Indian team eyes top 10 finish at Chang
BURIRAM THAILAND,/Chang International Circuit: Entering the finale 7th round of FIM Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) 2019 at Chang International circuit in Buriram (Thailand), IDEMITSU Honda Racing India team’s rider-duo of Rajiv Sethu and Senthil Kumar finished today’s 3 practice sessions on a strong note amidst intense competition from Asia’s best riders.
IDEMITSU Honda Racing India team’s experienced 3rd timer Rajiv was his fastest ever in free practice sessions at Chang circuit. With a lead gap of only 2:045 seconds from the Indonesian lead rider Rafid Topan who stopped the clock at 1:53:039, Rajiv clocked his best practice lap time of 1:55:084 here.
Meanwhile IDEMITSU Honda Racing India’s 19-year-old rookie rider Senthil too showed consistent improvement. Finishing 21st on the grid, Senthil today too recorded his personal best practice lap time of 1:56:942. Gaining confidence in the 6 rounds of 2019 ARRC, Senthil has significantly reduced his gap with lead rider to 3.903 sec today compared to the 4.628 sec gap in earlier round 3 in the same Chang circuit.
With the battle for AP250 title still up for grabs in the last round, the heat was on today. Top 15 riders fought in just 2:045 seconds gap. Ruling today’s combined practice from the front was Indonsian Rafid Topan Sucipto (1:53:039) followed by A.P Honda Racing team’s Thai rider duo of Piyawat Patoomyos (1:53:157) and Muklada Sarapuech (1:53:194).
After a constructive day today, tomorrow will be decisive. Honda’s Indian duo is fighting with 30 of Asia’s top riders from 8 countries. But the Indian challengers are confident after their positive track outing today. While Rajiv aims for a top 10 finish; Senthil targets a top 15 finish tomorrow at Buriram.
Prabhu Nagaraj, Vice President – Brand and Communications, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India Pvt. Ltd. said, “Today, our boys performance have improved in the practice sessions. A much more seasoned rider, Rajiv entered each practice session with a plan to improve on his past mistakes and closed in top 15. Senthil too is now in the 1:56 sec time. With the next 2 races deciding the overall standing in the AP 250 championship, every rider is giving his best and top 15 are riding in a 2 second gap. Between Round 3 practice at Chang circuit and today, both our riders are much faster, strategically taking calculated risks. We are confident of a strong grid position in the morning qualifier. The fight will be for Top 10.”
Comments from the IDEMITSU Honda Racing India rider Rajiv Sethu: “Today, I entered FP 1 with a mindset to adapt fast to the track and bike, since it has been 2 months since the last ARRC round. My feeling was good in FP 1. By afternoon’s FP 2, I tried different riding techniques and was 1 second faster. In FP3, my main objective was to better my cornering for tomorrow. This time, competition is really close and micro-seconds matter. Tomorrow, my focus is to qualify in the Top 10 and pick up further from there in the afternoon race.”
What IDEMITSU Honda Racing India rider Senthil Kumar had to say. “FP 1 gave me good confidence on traction as I was riding in wind and cooler track temperature. In FP2, we expected wind and had modified our suspension setup but the condition on track was reverse. But despite bike sliding during cornering, I challenged myself to record my best practice lap time of 1:56:942. This weekend is my last opportunity to win points for India. Tomorrow, my goal is ride with the fast bunch, qualify in top 15 and gain from there.”
Parallely, Honda Group Companies team Honda Asia-Dream Racing with SHOWA pulled strong in the inaugural Asia Superbike 1000cc class at the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship 2019 too. The team has recruited top personnel from Honda subsidiaries across the Asia & Oceania region including a race technician from India. Malaysian rider Zaqhwan Zaidi closed in Top 3 with 1:36:544 lap time – a mere 0.421 sec of the lead rider Azlan Shah in today’s combined ASB 1000 practice.
Today also exemplified Honda Racing India’s commitment to develop Iconic young Indian riders for the world. Honda Racing India’s 19-year-old young gun Kritik Habib today returned to Chang circuit for the Thailand Talent Cup (Honda’s development program for Asian riders run on Moto3 machine NSF250R). Challenging 19 riders, Karnataka boy Kritik Habib recorded 1:52:949 best lap time in FP1.
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