China ARRC: Sethu scores top 10 finish for Honda India
Honda Racing India rider Rajiv Sethu put on a fine display in the China round of Asia Road Racing Championship to equal his career best-10th place finish.
After lining up 14th on the grid for the second Asia Production 250cc race of the weekend, Sethu got off to a slow start and dropped down to 18th place.
However, he quickly recouped from the setback, regaining five positions by the end of lap three.
An error on lap 5 dragged him back to 14th, but Sethu was again able to recover lost ground, overtaking the Malaysian trio of Nazirul Izzat, Muhammad Izam and Muzakkir Mohamed on the penultimate lap to finish 10th.
The result means he remains the only Indian rider to breach the top 10 in the AP250 category of Asia Road Racing Championship.
“Today’s race was a mental race, more than a physical one,” Sethu said. “Despite cracking into Top 10 yesterday, I couldn’t hold on to my position.
“Today, I entered the race to finish in the 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”
Senthil Kumar, Honda Racing India
Photo by: ARRC
Sethu’s teammate and ARRC rookie Senthil Kumar had a topsy-turvy race aboard the other Honda India-run bike.
Senthil started from the seventh row of the grid and ran as high as 14th early on, only to drop back outside the top 20. Another mistake while recovering positions cost him time, but in the end he managed to finish in a strong 17th position.
“Today, I feel stronger as a rider. Learning from yesterday, I maintained my cool,” Senthil summed up the race.
“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 tight bunch.”
The Zhuhai circuit in China is a new addition to the ARRC calendar and meant all riders, including Sethu and Senthil, were left to explore uncharted territory.
Summing up the performance of the two Honda India riders, Honda two-wheeler’s motorsport head Prabhu Nagaraj 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.”