Asian Road Racing C'ship: Rajiv on song in Thailand, sets personal best in practice

In his third season in the Asian Production 250cc category, Rajiv Sethu set a personal best lap time of 1:55.146 during Practice 3 ahead of Saturday's qualifying.

Rajiv Sethu (in picture) finished in the 15th position after three practice sessions.   -  Special arrangement

Coming on the back of a top-ten finish in Australia, Rajiv Sethu had a memorable end to Friday's practice by setting a personal best lap time of 1:55.146 at the Chang International Circuit. His previous best was 1:55.725, set during Round 2 last season.

On aggregate, he finished in the 15th position after three practice sessions.

Team-mate Senthil Chandrasekaran, who is still getting used to his AP 250 bike, finished 20th on aggregate. His personal best on the day was 1:57:766, set in Practice 2.

Rajiv had a good start to the day's practice session, squeezing out 13 laps in thirty minutes in Practice 1. But an electrical issue Practice 2 forced the IDEMITSU Honda Racing India driver to end his session after just two laps.

Speaking after Practice 2, Rajiv said the team make changes to the bike's setup to suit the track conditions better in Practice 3, apart from fixing the issue. And as promised, the changes showed on the track as the 21-year-old was bang for the buck, managing to stay with the fastest pack all through the session, completing 15 laps and go into Saturday's qualification on a high.

"The setup is finalised and we got a good rhythm," said an upbeat Rajiv. "I now have to push and get a good result in qualifying tomorrow."

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"I feel good now as the rest are only two seconds ahead. I now need to focus better in qualifying to find my best lap time. The minimum aim is to qualify in the top ten."

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Rajiv Sethu (in picture) squeezed out 13 laps in thirty minutes in Practice 1.   -  Special arrangement

 

Prabhu Nagaraj, Vice President – Brand and Communications, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India, remained cautiously optimistic. "Rajiv has gotten better with each race, but so has the competition. Practice 3 was good as he was riding in the bunch, the high-speed bunch. Although he had his best timing, he finished 15th because that's the kind of competition that's there right now. He got into the 1:55s but there a lot of riders in the 1:54s," he said, adding, "I am sure he is capable of doing that too."

"He was slowed down a little (today) because he was riding in the bunch. But that's a good experience ahead of qualifying as he will be fighting the same guys tomorrow."

Practice results

Rajiv Sethu's times

  • Practice 1
    Laps - 13, Best - 1:56.022, Position - 14th
  • Practice 2
  • Laps - 2, Best - 1:56.603, Position - 16th
  • Practice 3
    Laps - 15, Best - 1:55.146, Position - 14th

Senthil Chandrasekaran's times

  • Practice 1
    Laps - , Best - 1:59.015, Position - 20
  • Practice 2
    Laps - , Best - 1:57.766, Position - 19
  • Practice 3
    Laps - , Best - 1:57.802, Position - 20

(The writer is in Buriram at the invitation of Honda Racing India.)