Suzuka Circuit (Japan): Rains brought crashes and drama in the race 2 at Suzuka circuit. But ending the 4th round of FIM Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) on a high note, the solo Indian team IDEMITSU Honda Racing India riders added more points yet again.
With as many as 9 riders losing traction and crashing out on Suzuka’s slippery tarmac in Asia Production 250 class (AP250) Race 2; today was about maintaining lines and avoiding mistakes.
Starting 13th on grid, Rajiv made a good start and climbed to 7th position before last corner of lap 1. But then, his helmet visor started fogging up leading to near zero visibility. From there on, Rajiv gradually dropped to 16th position and pushed on to return to top 15 in lap 5, got pushed back in lap 6 but recovered By penultimate 7th lap, Rajiv had returned to 15th. In last lap, Rajiv spotted an opening and overtook the rider before him to finish 14th and add 2 more points to IDEMITSU Honda Racing India’s kitty.
Shrugging off his 28th finish in race 1 yesterday, Senthil achieved his today’s target of top 20 finish. Starting 24th on grid, Senthil increased his confidence on the slippery Suzuka tarmac and jumped 4 positions in last 2 laps to finally finish 20th.
At the front, it was once again an Indonesian hat-trick on podium. After Muklada crashed out in lap 1, Rafid who started Race 2 from pole position too lost his front and crashed in lap 6. Astra Honda’s Awhin Sanjaya won by a 4 second gap and the battle for 2nd raged on till chequered flag finally settled with Astra Honda rider Irfan Ardiansyah finishing 2nd and Andy Fadly 3rd.
With curtains down at Suzuka, IDEMITSU Honda Racing India is now ranked 9th of 20 teams with 25 points. Snapping 3 more points, Rajiv is in top 15 riders and rookie rider Senthil is placed 25th with 2 points.
Mr. Prabhu Nagaraj, Vice President – Brand & Communications, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India Pvt. Ltd. said: “Suzuka has been a satisfying round. Today both our riders were able to complete the race despite as many as 9 rider crashes. Rajiv maintained his pace and consistency in top 15 despite heavy rains and fogging. Next round, he should bounce back stronger. For Senthil, today was his first complete wet race and he finished 20th. The progress is good and the team will further strengthen both Rajiv and Senthil’s race-craft and track riding once back in Chennai. Next up, ARRC will return to Zhuhai after 7 years. This will be a absolutely new experience for most of the riders. But I am confident as both our boys adapt well in new tracks and will deliver results in China too.”
On this occassion IDEMITSU Honda Racing India rider Rajiv Sethu said, “A great start pushed me to 7th but second lap onwards it was very difficult to ride due to visor fog. I couldnt see corners and water patches ahead and started dropping positions. I decided to open my visor in lap 3 but the water back-splash of riders before me held me back. By lap 5, rain stopped for a bit and I pushed hard with rider bunch. Taking the slipstream advantage, I made a move in the last corner of race and finished 14th. Zhuhai will a new track for all riders. Whoever learns fast will make gains and I will push harder there.”
IDEMITSU Honda Racing India rider Senthil Kumar added “Today’s race was the toughest race for me till now. Not only is Suzuka a tough technical track in itself but the rain and wind made it really hard to push. It’s the first time that I rode in this condition. The first three laps I was blinded by fog in today’s rain. I was opening the visor in every straight and cleaning it to avoid crash. It was only by the 4th lap that I started to make gains and finished 20th. Next up Zhuhai is not only a new track for me but all riders. Hopefully I will learn fast and do better there.”
In ASB1000cc class, Malaysian rider Zaqhwan Zaidi of Honda Asia-Dream Racing with SHOWA team was 5th to cross the chequered line.
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