FIM Asia Road Racing C'ship: Anthony West consolidates top position

West set a record earlier in the day for fastest qualifying lap of 01:40.585 for pole position.

Indian rider Anish Shetty competes during the fourth round of the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship at MMRT, in Chennai on Friday.   -  PTI

Veteran Australian Anthony West plotted his way to a brilliant victory — his third in the premier SuperSport 600cc this season — to consolidate his top position on the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship leaderboard at the MMRT, near Chennai on Saturday.

The 37-year old with a decade’s experience in the World Championship, rode a waiting race over 16 laps on his Yamaha, content at the third position after dropping two spots from his pole position start. 

West, who earlier in the day set a record for fastest qualifying lap of 01:40.585 for pole position, made his move with about two laps from the finish to take the flag ahead of Malaysian Md Zaqhwan Zaidi and 19-year old rising Japanese star Taiga Hada who was representing the Idemitsu Honda Racing India team.

The Idemitsu Honda Racing India team had another reason to cheer as its rider in the Asia Production 250cc class, Rajiv Sethu, 20, finished 13th in a grid of 24 for his first points this season. However, compatriot and teammate Anish Shetty, 20, crashed in the eighth of the 12-lap race that Indonesia’s Rheza Danica Ahrens won for his fifth consecutive success in this category.

In a thrilling finish in the Underbone 150cc race, Ahmed Fazli Sham led a 1-2 for Malaysia as he snatched a dramatic, last-gasp win over Md Helmi Azman, with Thailand’s Peerapong Luiboonpeng completing the podium.

The spotlight no doubt was on the SuperSport 600cc race that boasted of a quality grid with a mix of World championship riders and young guns, but ultimately, it was West’s craftiness and cool that won the day in tricky conditions due to light showers along some sections of the track. 

“It was a very difficult race. It took me a few laps to get used to the conditions due to the drizzle before we started. But as the race progressed, I was able to generate more power and then took my opportunities to pass the riders in front,” said West after the victory on his first visit to MMRT.

Earlier, in the Asia Production 250cc race, Shetty crashed in the eighth lap when he high-sided. “There was an issue regarding the suspension and also my being too aggressive on the throttle which led to the crash. I damaged the left toe which is swollen, but I should be fine for tomorrow’s second race,” said Shetty who is in his maiden ARRC season.