The final round of the 2019 Asia Road Racing Championship will be held at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand, this weekend. After winning points in each of the 6 rounds till now, the only Indian team in Asia Production 250 class, Idemitsu Honda Racing India will be entering the ultimate round in the Top 9 among 20 teams.
The team’s rider Rajiv Sethu enters the last round of AP 250 class with 33 points under his belt. The Chang International Circuit holds a history of good performances for him as in 2018, he scored his maiden international point here. In 2019, Rajiv upped his game during the 3rd ARRC round at Chang circuit recording the first Indian rider Qualifier finish in Top 7, new fastest lap time (1:53:573) and over 33% reduction in total race time gap with lead rider from 18 seconds to just 5 seconds within the 10 lap race. Rajiv is already in top 16 out of the 40 riders in AP 250 class – which is a stark improvement from his overall 27th position in 2018, but he is determined for a repeat top 10 finish this weekend as well. Meanwhile, this weekend will be the best shot for Senthil to finish Top 25 in his maiden ARRC season, considering he is most familiar with this track.
This weekend, the AP250 class grid will see 32 riders from 8 Asia Oceania nations (Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taipei, HongKong, India). With 4 of the top 5 riders chasing the title coming from Honda stables, Indonesian rider Irfan Ardiansyah must finish second to be crowned the 2019 AP250 FIM Asian Champion. The AP 250 title fight heads for a tie-breaker as Indonesian riders Irfan Ardiansyah and Andy Muhammad are both tied at the top with 176 points each. But with the double equalizer cut of 1000rpm on the top runners, the championship may see a new challenge from the next 3 riders on the scoreboard (Awhin Sanjaya, Muklada Sarapuech and Aiki Iyoshi).
Speaking on the final round, Mr Prabhu Nagaraj, Vice President – Brand and Communication, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India Pvt. Ltd. said, “2019 has been a great year for IDEMITSU Honda Racing India team. With 2 Top-10 and 8 Top-15 finishes, Rajiv is now consistently riding with the top bunch. It was at Chang only that Rajiv had qualified in Top 7 earlier this year. Now we are confident that Rajiv is primed better his record here and close 2019 season with a bang. Senthil too has improved his race-craft and gained points in his debut season itself. IDEMITSU Honda Racing India is ready to take on the Thai challenge. Both our riders know the intricacies of Chang. As the 2019 season wraps up this weekend, we are vying for a strong finish this season.”
The Chang International Circuit will also witness the final round of Thailand Talent Cup (Honda’s development program for Asian riders) this weekend. Representing the next breed of Indian young racers going global with Honda will be Kritik Habib from Gadag, Karnataka (ranked 21st). Parallelly, the marquee Asia SuperBike 1000cc (ASB) class of ARRC 2019 will see the podium contender Malaysian rider Zaqhwan Zaidi of Honda Asia-Dream Racing with SHOWA team (ranked 4th) return in full form. The team has top personnel from Honda subsidiaries across Asia & Oceania, including a race technician from India.