SUZUKA: It was a big learning curve for racers Rajiv Sethu and Senthil Kumar. The Idemitsu Honda Racing India team’s duo were mere passengers in the opening race of the Asian Road Racing Championship (ARRC) in the AP250 category, finishing way behind the toppers here at the Suzuka Circuit on Saturday.
Just 24 hours ago, things had looked bright with Rajiv, who’s in his third season at ARRC, clocking his personal best in the opening practice session. The feat was a big shot in the arm for the team, who are still looking to find their grip in the championship. Come Saturday, the conditions were ideal and after Rajiv qualified as 13th fastest with a best timing of 2’31.608s, the team’s hopes were high.
However, once the actual race began, the Chennai lad never looked like he could mount a challenge. The Honda riders had stressed about the difficulty of riding in a crowd after practice. That was evident as the 21-year-old fell to 16th within the first three laps itself. Even though he gained a spot back immediately, it always looked like it would take a miracle to challenge some of the pace-setters. A top-10 finish also looked beyond him as he eventually settled for 15th, earning a point.
“I made a quick start but in the hairpin corner, I got too close to the other riders and I went wide and lost positions. After that, I got caught with a slower bunch of riders and it was difficult for me to catch up with the top bunch,” Rajiv said. “The only positive was fetching a point.” With this result, Rajiv took his overall points tally to 23 points and lies 14th in the standings.
Senthil, meanwhile, was stuck at the wrong end of the track and to add to his misery, he was involved in a crash and he had to walk his bike to the finish line. He was the last (28th) among finishers. Nevertheless, the 18-year-old from Coimbatore remained upbeat. “It was a tough day. But I will have to keep focus and my aim is top-20 finish in the second race.”
It was a complete contrast for winner A Muhammad Fadly of Indonesia. The Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki Racing rider, who was second on the grid, made a quick start and took control of the proceedings. The 19-year-old broke free from the crowd and maintained good pace to fetch 25 points.While Fadly seemed like he was riding against himself, there was intense battle for the remaining spots on the podium with the bikers exchanging positions multiple times.