After vigorous four rounds at Thailand, Australia, Japan and India, the solo team from India -- Idemitsu Honda Racing India has now taken the battle to Indonesia, where the penultimate round 5 of Asias premier motorsport championship FIM Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) started at the Sentul International Circuit here on Friday.
The Indonesia round seems to be one of the most challenging rounds of the season so far. Not only is the 3.964 kilometer Sentul circuit a very tough one with 11 turns, the competition too has intensified with four wildcard entries.
Representing India in Asia Production 250cc class is the 20-year-old Chennai boy Rajiv Sethu, and the debutant 24-year-old Hubli rider Anish Shetty. Completing the trio is 20-year-old Japanese rider Taiga Hada in marquee SuperSports 600cc class.
The team made a good start in Friday's practice session. Pushing hard in the SS600 class, Hada jumped from 10th position in the first practice to the top 5 by the third practice. Tada's best lap time improved from 1:33:043 in the first practice to 1:31:360 in third practice.
In the Asia Production 250cc class (AP250), Honda duo of Rajiv and Anish too made the best improvement in timing among all 30 riders.
Fresh from his recent win in round 4 Indian national championship, Rajiv had a mixed day. He shaved off 1.6 seconds from his first practice best lap time on Friday and climbed 2 positions to 21st in the second. However, a high-slide in second practice resulted in significant damage to his bike due to which he couldn't gain track experience in third practice.
Making his riding debut in Sentul, Anish improved his lap-time by strong 2.9 seconds between practice 1 and 2 but couldn't maintain his pace in the third. But the confidence that he gained on the track on Friday should give good results in Saturday's qualifying and race.
Elaborating on the riders' performance Prabhu Nagaraj, Vice President, Brand and Communications, Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) said: "Indonesia's Sentul circuit is definitely a difficult one. Rajiv improved on his lap time between practices while riding first time in this difficult track, Anish too gained confidence."
"In 600cc class, Hada showed huge improvement and climbed to top 5 in third practice. Armed with Friday's experience, our boys are positive for Saturday. We are hoping for better position in AP250 and challenging for a podium in SS600."
Talking about his practice experience, Rajiv said, "Sentul is a tough track but I have entered this round with a positive momentum. Today was all about finding a proper grip and racing line. My timing improved consistently. On Saturday, qualifying will be critical as I want to gain points and finish in Top 15 in Indonesia."
( 472 Words)