Honda Racing India rider Rajiv Sethu scored his maiden top 10 finish in the Australia round of Asia Road Racing Championship on Saturday.
Competing in the Asia Production 250cc category, Sethu had put himself in prime position for a big result after securing a career-best 12th place grid slot in Friday’s qualifying.
When the race got underway, the Chennai-born rider then took full advantage of his starting position, propelling himself up to fifth with a blistering start from the outside of the fourth row.
However, while battling with Irfan Ardiansyah, his Honda’s handlebar got stuck with his Indonesian rider’s bike, leaving him tumbling down the order.
Despite the setback, Sethu kept his calm and started regaining lost ground, making some moves on lap 5 of nine to finish 10th.
With this result, he came the first Indian rider to finish inside the top 10 in an ARRC race.
“Everything is going in good direction,” Sethu said. “Thanks to my IDEMITSU Honda Racing India team, I am feeling stronger on track with the training, expert coach feedback and the full technical team backing me.
“I achieved my goal for today to break into the Top 10 for the first time. But now that I am here, I have to change my race craft to target higher.”
While Sethu enjoyed a breakthrough result, teammate Senthil Kumar endured a particularly difficult race.
After qualifying 18th, Kumar ran wide on the opening lap, dropping to the rear of the pack. Although he did initiate a fantastic fightback and retook several lost positions, he finished outside the points in 17th.
“I am feeling disappointed today. I improved my braking today but I was too tense before the race,” Senthil said.
“That reflected in my result today. Tomorrow, my target is to stay calm and avoid aggressiveness in lap 1 which cost me dear today. I’m challenging myself to finish in top 15 tomorrow.”
Mr. Prabhu Nagaraj, Vice President – Brand and Communications, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India Pvt. Ltd added: “Today it’s a happy day! We’ve reached the first step of our target top 10 finish. Looking at both rider and coach feedback, we’re confident of Rajiv’s potential.
“He’s earned 14 points in 3 races which is a major improvement over the 7 points he earned in 2018 complete season. Now it’s time for Rajiv to aim much higher. We were expecting Senthil too in top 15.
“But while he fell back, he fought back very well. We are delighted to be the first Indian team to finish in top 10 in AP250 race. Tomorrow, we will challenge ourselves harder to better our position even more.”
The Australia ARRC weekend concludes at the Bend Motorsport Park on Sunday, with the second Asia Production 250cc race to be held in the morning hours.