Starting the 2019 season on a high, Idemitsu Honda Racing India’s Rajiv Sethu finished the inaugural race in 11th position, while teammate Senthil Kumar took the 14th position in the ongoing Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) in Malaysia. This is Senthil Kumar’s debut ARRC and in his maiden appearance at the international race, he bagged two points. As a result, the team bagged seven points after the first race, which is its highest ever tally in a single race.
The race wasn’t devoid of drama, with two crashes in the first lap itself, the first race of AP 250 class saw battle start from the word go. The fight went on until the chequered flag of the 8-lap race with Indonesian riders taking the top six positions. Overtaking to win the first race just 100 meters short of the finish line was Lucky Hendriansya of Astra Honda (19:34:655), with Andy coming second (19:34:839) and Irfan Ardiansyah also from Astra Honda rounding off the podium (19:38:376).
In the first lap itself, Rajiv made a good start from his 14th position. While climbed to the top bunch but had to drop back due to other rider crash. He overtook two riders in lap-4 and maintaining this till the last 8th lap, the 21-year old recorded his best ever finish in AP250 class at 11th position. With this strong finish, Rajiv swooped his highest single race haul of five points in the first race of 2019 ARRC season.
Starting 17th on the grid of 25 riders, Senthil made a good start and overtook three riders in the first lap. From there until the end of the race, he slugged it out with Taipei rider Chiou Ke-Lung and closed at 14th position. With this, Senthil is now the youngest Indian rider and the first-ever Indian rookie to score a point in Asia Road Racing Championship.
Honda’s front-runner rider Rajiv Sethu said, “After my best ever qualifier finish at 14th earlier today, I was charged up even more. I made a great start and overtook nine riders to reach 5th spot in first lap itself. But just then the 2 riders before me crashed and I had to go back to save myself. Yet I could gain 3 spots and finish 11th which is the best ever for me in my three years of ARRC. Today, I feel great but tomorrow I will fight to finish in the top 10.”
On his debut ARRC race, Senthil Kumar said, “It has been a fantastic day of learning for me. The competition is very tough here. I started strong and overtook three riders in first lap itself. Thereafter the battle was to hold my front and I could successfully do that. Personally, I am both humbled to earn points for the only Indian team in my debut ARRC race itself and am excited to do even better in race 2 tomorrow.”
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