With speed and aggression, Honda’ssolo Indian team eyes top 10 finish at Chang
· RajivSethu consistent in Top 15 with 1:55:084 lap time – hisfastest ever in free practice session
· SenthilKumar stands 21st on the 30 rider grid with1:56:942 lap time, shaves 1 second off his lap time
· 19-year-old Kritik Habib, Honda’s next-gen talent in Thailand Talent Cup closespractice 1 in top 15
Chang International Circuit, Buriram (Thailand), 29November 2019:Entering the finale 7th round of FIM Asia Road Racing Championship(ARRC) 2019 at Chang International circuit in Buriram (Thailand), IDEMITSUHonda Racing India team’s rider-duo of Rajiv Sethu and Senthil Kumar finishedtoday’s 3 practice sessions on a strong note amidst intense competition fromAsia’s best riders.
IDEMITSU HondaRacing India team’s experienced 3rd timer Rajiv was his fastest everin free practice sessions at Chang circuit. With a lead gap of only 2:045seconds from the Indonesian lead rider Rafid Topan who stopped the clock at1:53:039, Rajiv clocked his best practice lap time of 1:55:084 here.
Meanwhile IDEMITSUHonda Racing India’s 19-year-old rookie rider Senthil too showed consistentimprovement. Finishing 21st on the grid, Senthil today too recordedhis personal best practice lap time of 1:56:942. Gaining confidence in the 6rounds of 2019 ARRC, Senthil has significantly reduced his gap with lead riderto 3.903 sec today compared to the 4.628 sec gap in earlier round 3 in the sameChang circuit.
Withthe battle for AP250 title still up for grabs in the last round, the heat wason today. Top 15 riders fought in just 2:045 seconds gap. Ruling today’scombined practice from the front was Indonsian Rafid Topan Sucipto (1:53:039)followed by A.P Honda Racing team’s Thai rider duo of Piyawat Patoomyos(1:53:157) and Muklada Sarapuech (1:53:194).
After a constructiveday today, tomorrow will be decisive. Honda’s Indian duo is fighting with 30 ofAsia’s top riders from 8 countries. But the Indian challengers are confidentafter their positive track outing today. While Rajiv aims for a top 10 finish;Senthil targets a top 15 finish tomorrow at Buriram.
Quote from Mr. Prabhu Nagaraj, Vice President – Brandand Communications, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India Pvt. Ltd.
“Today, our boys performance have improved in thepractice sessions. A much more seasoned rider, Rajiv entered each practicesession with a plan to improve on his past mistakes and closed in top 15.Senthil too is now in the 1:56 sec time. With the next 2 races deciding theoverall standing in the AP 250 championship, every rider is giving his best andtop 15 are riding in a 2 second gap. Between Round 3 practice at Chang circuit andtoday, both our riders are much faster, strategically taking calculated risks.We are confident of a strong grid position in the morning qualifier. The fightwill be for Top 10.”
Quote of IDEMITSUHonda Racing India rider Rajiv Sethu:“Today, I entered FP 1 with a mindset toadapt fast to the track and bike, since it has been 2 months since the lastARRC round. My feeling was good in FP 1. By afternoon’s FP 2, I tried differentriding techniques and was 1 second faster. In FP3, my main objective was tobetter my cornering for tomorrow. This time, competition is really close andmicro-seconds matter. Tomorrow, my focus is to qualify in the Top 10 and pickup further from there in the afternoon race.”
Quote of IDEMITSUHonda Racing India rider Senthil Kumar:“FP 1 gave me good confidence on tractionas I was riding in wind and cooler track temperature. In FP2, we expected windand had modified our suspension setup but the condition on track was reverse.But despite bike sliding during cornering, I challenged myself to record my bestpractice lap time of 1:56:942. This weekend is my last opportunity to winpoints for India. Tomorrow, my goal is ride with the fast bunch, qualify in top15 and gain from there.”
Parallely, HondaGroup Companies team Honda Asia-DreamRacing with SHOWA pulled strong in the inaugural Asia Superbike 1000ccclass at the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship 2019 too. The team has recruitedtop personnel from Honda subsidiaries across the Asia & Oceania regionincluding a race technician from India. Malaysian rider Zaqhwan Zaidi closed inTop 3 with 1:36:544 lap time – a mere 0.421 sec of the lead rider Azlan Shah intoday’s combined ASB 1000 practice.
Today alsoexemplified Honda Racing India’s commitment to develop Iconic young Indianriders for the world. Honda Racing India’s 19-year-oldyoung gun Kritik Habib today returned to Chang circuit for the ThailandTalent Cup (Honda’s development program for Asian riders run on Moto3 machine NSF250R).Challenging 19 riders, Karnataka boy Kritik Habib recorded 1:52:949 best laptime in FP1.
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