ARRC: Sarath Kumar, Rajiv Sethu complete 2017 season in respective categories
The final round of the 2017 Asia Road Racing Championship saw Sarath Kumar finish 19th, 17th and 20th in the three practice sessions in SuperSport 600cc category at Chang International Circuit spread across Friday and Saturday.
The Rama Honda by NTS T.Pro Ten 10 rider qualified 20th, after improving on his lap times from practice, while teammate Taiga Hada was 10th, Sena Yamada 16th and wildcard Broc Pearson was 19th.
Up front in the pole battle, it was a Yamaha Thailand Racing Team 1-2 ahead with Apiwat Wongthananon on pole from Chalermpol Polaimai, while Akeno Speed Racing’s Anthony West was third.
It was a fairly straightforward race for the Indian as he held his goal of getting race miles under his belt for the 2017 season in the superior category. He finished 18th overall, gaining two places from his start position.
Kumar had his wildcard partner Pearson ahead of him, while teammate Hada was involved in a four-way fight for seventh in which he eventually ended up ninth. Yamada, meanwhile, was 13th in the three-way fight for 12th position.
The battle for the win raged on for the 18 laps, with the Top 4 separated by a mere 0.497s over the line at the end of the race. Pole-sitter Wongthananon just held his lead from West, who was able to clear Polaimai.
The Thai rider was also beaten by fellow countryman in the end, after wildcard entrant for the Kawasaki Thailand Racing Team, Thitipong Warokorn took him in the race - the duo separated by 0.182s over the line.
The final race of the season on Sunday saw another on the limit performance from Kumar, who once again finished 18th after starting from 20th - but improving on his race lap times, with Pearson again ending up ahead of the Indian.
Teammate Hada this time had four other riders fighting for sixth position, with the Japanese finishing in eighth among the five riders, while Yamada was 14th in the fight for the 12th position.
Up front, Wongthananon made it two in two as a wildcard, with West again having to settle for second best, but this time the Thai rider was dominant with over two second gap to his Australian rival.
Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki Racing's Azlan Shah completed the podium, just ahead of the fighting duo pf Polaimai and Warokorn - as the Top 5 rider had nearly 10 second gap over the rest of the field.
After the completion of six rounds, Shah took the championship with 155 points, winning by just the two points from Musashi Boon Siew Honda Racing's Zaqhwan Zaidi, as Rama Honda;s Hada ended up third on 149 points.
The other two riders, Yamada was 13th with 58 points to his name, while Kumar finished in 22nd position with 16 points. In the teams' battle, the Rama Honda outfit was fourth with 155 points, as Manual Tech KYT Kawasaki Racing won the title with 182 points.
Asia Production Cup 250cc
For Rajiv Sethu in the Asia Production Cup 250cc class, the Rama Honda rider was 18th, 25th and 31st respectively in the three sessions on Friday and Saturday.
The Indian qualified 26th for Race 1, but couldn’t improve on his FP1 time, with teammates Tomoyoshi Koyama in sixth and wildcard Kenta Fujii in 20th.
Up ahead, Yamaha Thailand Racing Team’s Anupab Sarmoon took pole from AP Honda Racing Thailand Muklada Sarapuech and Astra Honda Racing Team’s Gerry Salim.
The learning for curve for Sethu in the higher class races continued, as he rounded up with a 22nd place finish, while fighting in the lower half of the grid.
The Indian was merely 0.050s behind K-max Racing Team's Akito Haga in the 10-lap race on Saturday, which was won by Astra Honda Racing's Rheza Danica Arenas.
The Indonesian took the win by a mere 0.211s from pole-sitter Sarmoon, while the Thai rider was another 0.146s from Sethu's teammate Koyama, who completed the rostrum positions.
Wildcard entrant Fujii in the Rama Honda started off well, but lost places to finish nearly seven seconds behind Sethu in 23rd.
The end of the season didn't go well for Sethu, who crashed out of the race from 26th in the opening lap itself, where his teammate reigned supreme at the front.
Starting from sixth, Koyama had a dream run to win the 10-lap race, but was hugely challenged by Sarmoon, who finished a mere 0.040s behind the Japanese rider.
The duo had only them to battle with, as the final podium finishes Salim was over seven seconds off the Top 2 riders. Meanwhile, wildcard Fujii finished 22nd.
After six rounds in the championship, it was Salim who took the riders' honours with 215 points over Koyama, who ended up on same points with Sarmoon on 188.
The Japanese was adjudged second since he took two race wins to Sarmoon's none. Sethu was classified 46th, having scored no points in the season.
In the team's battle, Koyama's 188 points was enough for the Rama Honda outfit to finish second behind Astra Honda Racing Team, which scored 257 in all.