SUZUKA: The road has been a challenging one for bikers Rajiv Sethu and Senthil Kumar, who rides for Idemitsu Honda Racing India team in the competitive Asian Road Racing Championships (ARRC).
But their journey, and the team’s as well, has been encouraging so far. With every outing, the duo have been picking up the fine nuances of the sport, looking to blend in with Honda CBR250 RR and challenge their rivals. Friday was a notable day, especially for the former.
Here at the iconic Suzuka Circuit for the fourth round of the competition, they were relaxed after an adrenaline-filled run in the first two sessions of practice. Rajiv had posted his personal best (2:30.826) in the first round to be classified fourth. Overall, he finished 10th after three sessions.
Given the fact that he had missed out on points in one of the races in the previous round in Buriram, Thailand, this was a massive lift. “I feel more confident. I’ve never been into this top-10 bunch,” the 21-year-old, who is in his third year at ARRC, said.
Two weeks ago, they had undergone a rigorous four-hour endurance run at the same circuit. They had rode in rainy conditions for the most part of the session then and that could prove pivotal as there’s a good chance of rain on race days.
In the remaining two sessions, Rajiv could not quite match his first outing. But that was part of the strategy as he was looking to experiment for the actual races. “This track has lot of straights. So, if you are close to another rider, you are able to clock better timings. But I wanted to check how I can perform when I’m alone.”
Honda’s vice president of brand and communications, Prabhu Nagaraj, was a pleased man. With Rajiv’s notable run, Nagaraj is confident that he can carry on the momentum to the qualifiers and races, slated for Saturday and Sunday.
“It was a good start for us. He (Rajiv) has delivered what was expected. I’m confident that he is going to fight it out. He has been quite competitive and gone close to some of the top riders.”
Rookie Senthil was off the pace as compared to his senior. He was placed 24th overall, posting his best time of 2:34.302s in the second practice. After a promising debut in Malaysia, where he fetched two points, he has been subdued in terms of performance, failing to finish thrice in a total of six races.
Notwithstanding the results, he has taken plenty of pointers with every run and said that he can do much better in the near future.