Zhuhai (China): Today was a Golden day for Rajiv Sethu and IDEMITSU Honda Racing India – the solo Indian racing team in 5th round of FIM Asia Road Racing Championship 2019 (ARRC) at Zhuhai circuit of China with celebrations with the results.
IDEMITSU Honda Racing India team rider Rajiv Sethu repeats performance as the first Indian rider to breach the Top 10 ranks in Race 2 of Asia Production 250 class. This is his second top 10 finish in his 3 ARRC seasons, his first being in the Australian round race 1 earlier.
Despite a decent 14th position on the grid, a bad start dragged Rajiv Sethu to 18th ending lap 1 itself. But learning from yesterday, Rajiv continued his assault on the timesheets immediately and recorded his best ever 1:54:055 lap time in lap 2 itself. By lap 3, Rajiv gained 5 positions.
He was now with the top bunch riding in less than 2 seconds gap. In lap 4, he gained over his old adversary Cao Viet Nam putting him in 12th position, but an error in lap 5 dragged him back to 14th. Despite in-fighting, he maintained his metronomic pace till 8th lap. It was in lap 9 that Rajiv overtook the Malaysian trio of NazirulIzzat, Muhammad Izam and Muzakkir Mohamed and finally finished in Top 10.
For the rookie 18-year-old Senthil Kumar, today was a day of solid improvement. From his 7th row start, Senthil’s start pushed him to 16th but moderated to 21st ending lap 1. By lap 3, Senthil regained 3 positions to 18th. A cornering mistake in lap 5 resulted in 3 riders overtaking him, putting him 21st. But continuing to challenge himself in the bunch of 6 riders, Senthil finally overtook 3 riders in turn 1 and finish 17thwith an overall 2 positions gain from his start.
Sharing an overview on today’s qualifier, Prabhu Nagaraj, Vice President – Brand and Communications, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India Pvt. Ltd. said, “Today, was a happy day for us. Rajiv stuck to the plan for riding with front bunch. He made a strategic move in lap 9 and started leading the second group. While successfully steering away from the crash of Honda riders in just before him in the last lap cost him a few positions, he still achieved the targeted Top 10 finish. Today’s race has pushed him in the front bunch. With increased confidence, Rajiv will better his results next in Malaysia. Sethil is constantly improving in every race, bettering his time and gaining positions. Overall, I am happy to see the progress and entry of IDEMITSU Honda Racing India riders in top 10 yet again.”
“Todays’ race was a mental race, more than a physical one. Despite cracking into Top 10 yesterday, I couldn’t hold on to my position. Today, I entered the race to finish in Top 10. With the amazing team support behind me and by keeping my cool in the heat of race, I finally achieved my dream finish. The competition was severe, there were multiple crashes and in-fighting in the top bunch. With this great learning, I will enter as a better rider in the next round at Malaysia,” Rajiv Sethu said.
Senthil Kumar said, “Today, I feel stronger as a rider. Learning from yesterday, I maintained my cool. However, I could have finished 14th. I overtook 3 riders in turn 1 to reach 17th. In turn 6, I overtook another 3 riders to reach 14th but made the mistake of aggressive braking due to which the 3 riders overtook me back and built a big gap. I closed on them but being the last lap couldn’t overtake them before the chequered flag. Today, I learnt how to ride in a tight bunch. Next up in Malaysia, my target will be to learn from this mistake and finish in the top 15.”