ARRC: Penalty costs Indian riders points in final race

Shyam Sundar

Buriram (Thailand), Dec 1 (PTI) Honda Racing India finished outside points after both its riders Rajiv Sethu and Senthil Kumar received five-spot penalty for exceeding the track limit in the seventh round of the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship, here on Sunday.

Senthil rode a superb race to finish 11th while Sethu was 13th but were pushed to 16th and 18th respectively for exceeded the track limit on turn 12 during the 10th and final lap of the Asia Production 250 cc category.

FIM imposed the penalty on five riders including Mohd Muzakkir, who took the top spot.

Astra Honda's Lucky Hendiransya's seventh place finish was amended to 12th. Starting 16th, Sethu’s good start put him at 10th spot by the end of the opening lap but he soon slipped to 16th. Making recovery, he moved up to 11th position by lap six where top 12 riders were fighting it out in a 1.8 second gap. By lap eight, the Chennai-based Sethu had overtaken two more riders but a wide cornering on turn 12 in final lap saw Sethu finish 13th.

'I put up a very good fight in Race 2. While I was really excited by my 13th finish, the 5 position penalty was crushing for me. But at the end of the day, I had taken a wide corner and had to bear the brunt of it. Overall, 2019 was for sure a great season and I hope to get better next year,' Sethu said.

Senthil, in his debut ARRC season, came up with a splendid effort on Sunday after crashing out of the first race on Saturday and recorded his personal best lap record of 1:54:323.

After the race, he said, 'Today, I recorded my personal best lap time in the morning warm up (1:55:688) which gave me more confidence before the race. Despite a bad start in the afternoon race, I gained 11 positions over my 22nd start to finish 11th – which was my best ever finish till date. But the FIM penalty cost me.

'Despite this, today has 2 positives for me. For the first time my gap with lead rider was just 1.693 seconds and I also bettered my personal best lap time to 1.54 seconds.' While four riders including championship contender Irfan Ardiansyah crashed out during the race, local favourite Mukada Sarapuech and Vietnam’s Cao Viet Nam couldn’t finish the race due to technical problems.

With the race winner Muzakkir also losing five spots, AP Honda Racing Thailand’s rider Piyawat Patoomyos emerged winner, followed by Vorapong Malahuan and Awhin Sanjaya.

Andy Fadly won the overall trophy with 214 points, Astra Honda Racing team’s duo of Awhin Sanjaya finished 2nd (198 points) and Irfan Ardiansyah came third (187).

'For the youngest Indian rider at ARRC, Senthil did his best ever finish at 11th, broke the 1.55 second lap time barrier and gained 11 positions in the AP 250 race for the first time,' Prabhu Nagaraj, Vice President - Brand and Communications, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India Pvt. Ltd, said.

'Rajiv Sethu too has grown immensely and their (the duo's) 2019 performance has made others take us as serious competition now. Surely, today the penalty was a downer but it is an opportunity for the riders to better their craft further. We will start the 2020 season testing tomorrow itself.' The Honda Racing India team finished the 2019 ARRC season in the top nine with 35 points. With two top-10 and nine top-15 finishes, Sethu (with 35 points) ended 17th, a jump of 10 places over his 27th spot in 2018. PTI SS AT AT