New Delhi: Bend Motorsport Park, Adelaide, 26 April 2019: After delivering best ever performance in round 1 of FIM Asia Road Racing Championship 2019 (ARRC) in Sepang; IDEMITSU Honda Racing India team’s riders pushed hard in today’s Asia Production 250 Qualifying at the Bend Motorsport Park near Adelaide today.
The 4.95 km long Bend track with its technical corners and fast-flowing sections proved to a tougher adversary today after early morning showers. But the Indian duo continued to climb ranks in the afternoon AP 250 Qualifier.
Rajiv pushed hard to close the AP 250 qualifier in Top 12 with best lap time of 2:11:738. This was a significant improvement for Rajiv over from his best practice lap time of 2:12:130. Shaving off seconds in each track outing, Rajiv has already reduced his gap with lead rider Andy to 3.1 seconds.
Meanwhile, learning continued for 18-year-old rookie Senthil Kumar who gained his first ever wet race experience in the morning third practice. In his first Bend outing, Senthil closed in top 18 with best lap time of 2:13:876. Pushing harder, Senthil’s gap with the lead rider has now reduced to 5.250 seconds compared to his best practice lap time gap of 8.412 seconds.
Tomorrow’s race 1 will see reigning AP 250 champion Andy Muhammad Fadly from Indonesia who stopped the clock with best lap time of 2:08:626 lead the grid, followed by Japanese rider Aiki Iyoshi at 2nd and the wonder woman Muklada Sarapuech from Honda Racing Thailand at 3rd spot.
Sharing an overview on today’s qualifier, Mr. Prabhu Nagaraj, Vice President – Brand and Communications, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India Pvt. Ltd. said, “The morning rains gave us some tense moments but the Indian team emerged stronger than before. Rajiv riding is evolving every time he goes on track. Rajiv qualified 12th on the grid, which is his best ever qualifying position. This can give him the push to finish in the top 10 for the first time. For Senthil, Australia is a complete new ballgame. He faced the wet race for the first time today but he’s showing significant improvement. If the team and Senthil play it right, we just might earn points yet again in tomorrow’s race 1.”
Satisfied with his performance today and charged up for tomorrow, Honda’s third timer ARRC rider Rajiv Sethu said, “Bend is a complicated track. The many elevations coupled with strong winds make it unpredictable for riders. Last year, I could do only 5 laps as I suffered a crash in practice 3. This time, I had more laps on track and improved to qualify in 12th position – which is my best ever qualifying result. Tomorrow, my mantra will be to stay calm, understand the race in initial laps, then plan and push ahead. My goal is to break into the Top 10 for the first time in the 9 lap race tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, the 18-year-old rookie rider Senthil Kumar is working hard to grab points for India in this tough weekend and said, “Today’s FP3 was my first wet race. Riding with a bunch of riders, I could improve my riding line and entry speed. I almost crashed in lap 5 but made fast recovery. Overall, my gap with lead rider has reduced and I finished 18th. Tomorrow, I plan to stay with the bunch in the first few laps and then set a pace and challenge myself to finish in Top 15th.”