Sriperumbudur: All eyes were on home riders Rajiv Sethu from Chennai and Bengaluru’s Anish Shetty who went through their paces and enjoyed fairly satisfactory outings during the three practice sessions as the fourth round of the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) got underway here at the Madras Motor Race Track (MMRT) on Friday.
With a little bit of rain on Thursday, the weather on Friday was the perfect setting as the Indian duo took the track for the practice sessions.
Competing in the Asia Production 250cc class, the Idemitsu Honda Racing India team-mates Sethu and Shetty though off the pace by about three seconds, did generate hopes of strong results over the next two days of intense action when they go through the qualifying session followed by the two races this weekend.
Shetty, who is in his debut season of the ARRC, was a little quicker that Sethu in two of the three sessions with a best of 01:51.2, while the Chennai youngster finished the day clocking 01:51.5.
Sethu who is back from an injury is still looking for those precious first points of the season said “The three practice sessions went quite ok, though I still need to pull out better timings tomorrow for the qualifying. I had a good second session and my immediate goal for this weekend is to try and finish in top 10.”
For Shetty, who was impressive in Australia where he managed to earn two points in the second round said “It has been a steep learning curve for me. There has been so much to learn in such a short time! I have never ridden such a powerful bike which is much more powerful than the Honda CBR 250 which I ride in the National championship. The AP 250s are twin cylinder machines and much quicker than the CBR250.”
When quizzed on how his practice sessions were, Shetty said “I had some issues with the suspension early on, but after some changes, I had a good second session when I posted my best timing for today of 1:51 (one minute, 51.2 seconds). We made some changes ahead of the third session and I had to get used to them. For tomorrow, I hope I can go quicker.”
The quickest rider in the AP 250cc class was championship leader Rheza Danica Ahrens (Indonesia), winner of four the six races over three rounds so far and whose best over three sessions was a 01:48.03.
Meanwhile, the premier SuperSport 600cc class dished out an exciting action with the promise of more to come over the next two days. Twice champion (2014 and 2016) Md Zaqhwan Zaidi, the 23-year old Malaysian, posted the quickest timing of the day with a blistering 01:41.306 on his Honda, ahead of championship leader Anthony West (Australia), riding the Yamaha at the MMRT for the first time, who posted his best lap of 01:41.388.
In the other practice sessions, Aravind Balasubramaniam topped the timesheets in the Idemitsu Honda India Talent Cup organised by MMSC (CBR250), clocking 02:02.205, while Yashas RL was the quickest in the TVS RR310 One-Make Championship with 02:02.4.
Malaysian Md Akid Aziz on a Yamaha took the top spot in the Underbone 150 qualifying with a 01:51.970.