Thailand: Despite scoring a double whammy top 15 finish by both the Indian riders of IDEMITSU Honda Racing India, the solo Indian racing team in the AP250 (Asia Production 250cc) class of Asia Road Racing Championship 2019 (ARRC) faced a tough Sunday at Chang circuit.
With 30 riders from 20 teams battling for AP 250 championship in the finale race, FIM 5 position penalty on exceeding track limits in turn 12 of final 10th lap race turned the fortune of 5 riders. Despite being the first to cross the chequered flag, Md. Muzakkir was pushed back to 6th position. Astra’s Honda Lucky Hendiransya’s 7th finish in race was amended to 12th. Similarly, Senthil and Rajiv too lost 5 positions from their 11th and 13thrace finish to 16th and 18th positions in final results, leading to no points for Honda’ssolo Indian team despite a double top 15 finish.
Starting 16th, Rajiv’s good start took him to 10thspot ending lap 1. Lap 3 erased his gains, pulling him back to 16th. Thereon, Rajiv made a fantastic recovery to 15th by lap 4, 13th by lap 5 and climbed upto 11th position by lap 6 when Top 12 riders were fighting in a 1.8 second gap. By lap 8, Rajiv overtook 2 riders to enter into top 10. A wide corneringin turn 12 of final 10th lap saw Rajiv finish 13th in race 2 today, only to bear the brunt of 5 positions penalty which put him 18th on the official race2 result.
Still learning the ropes of international racing in his debut ARRC season, 18-year-old Senthil continued his assault on time sheets to record his personal best lap record of 1:54:323 at Chang ciruit today. Today, Senthil showed true challenging spirit, climbing 11 positions from his distant 8th row start of 22nd position to finish 11th – the best ever finish of Honda’s rookie rider. But the 5 position penalty pushed him back to 16th in the amended results.
While 4 riders including championship contender Irfan Ardiansyah crashed out during the aggressive race, local favouriteMukadaSarapuech and Vietnam’s Cao Viet Nam too dropped due to technical problems. Post the positions flux after penalty, A.P Honda Racing Thailand’s rider PiyawatPatoomyos was the winner, followed by VorapongMalahuan (2nd) and AwhinSanjaya (3rd). After the climactic race 2 finish today, it’s a clean podium sweep for Indonesiansin the 2019 AP 250 championship. While Andy Fadly won 2019AP 250 title with 214 points, Astra Honda Racing team’s duo of AwhinSanjaya closed 2nd (188 points) and Irfan Ardiansyah 3rd (187 points).
Sharing overview of the Honda’s solo Indian team’s debut season at ARRC, Mr. Prabhu Nagaraj, Vice President – Brand and Communications, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India Pvt. Ltd.,“Today was the story of Indian challengers of Honda. For the youngest Indian rider at ARRC, Senthil did his best ever finish at 11th, broke the 1.55 second lap time barrier and gained as many as 11positions in the AP 250 race for the first time. Rajiv too has grown immensely and our 2019 performance has made others take us as serious competition now. Surely, today the penalty was a downer but it is an opportunity for our riders to better their craft even further. As a company driven on realizing the Power of Dreams, Honda racing India’s dream is to create an iconic Indian rider for the world. Working on this dream, we will start the 2020season testing tomorrow itself.”
Quote from IDEMITSU Honda Racing India rider Rajiv Sethu
“I put up a very good fight in Race 2. While I was really excited by my 13th finish, the 5 position penalty was crushing for me. But at the end of the day, I had taken a wide corner and had to bear the brunt of it. Overall, 2019 was for sure a great season. I am now confident that I can fight in the front. The next season will require a lot of hard work but I am ready for it. I am thankful to my sponsors CWI and IDEMITSU and most importantly my team IDEMITSU Honda Racing India. Now, its time to prepare for 2020.”
Quote from IDEMITSU Honda Racing India rider Senthil Kumar
“Today, I recorded my personal best lap time in the morning warm up (1:55:688) which gave me more confidence before the race. Despite a bad start in the afternoon race, I gained 11 positions over my 22nd start to finish 11th – which was my best ever finish till date. But the FIM penalty for exceeding track limit, cost me 5 positions to 16th. Despite this, today has 2 positives for me. For the first time my gap with lead rider was just 1.693 seconds and I also bettered my personal best lap time to 1.54 seconds (1:54:323).”
2019’s been a cracker of a season for India’s solo team – ‘IDEMITSU Honda Racing India team. With Rajiv’s and Senthil’sconsistent improvement, Indian motorsport is coming of age. IDEMITSU Honda Racing India has ended 2019 ARRC season of AP 250 class in Top 9 with 35 points. With 2 Top-10 & 9 Top 15 finishes; Rajiv closes 2019 at 17th. This marks a solid 10 rank jump over his 27th rank in 2018 AP 250 championship. For the rookie rider Senthil Kumar who is still learning the ropes, his 30th rank out of 44 riders will see improvement ahead.
Parallelly, Zaqhwan Zaidi of Honda Asia-Dream Racing with SHOWA team in ASB1000cc class finished 2nd in today’s race 2. This puts the team 4thand Zaghwan 3rd in the overall ASB 1000 championship.