The availability of slicks in the country has negated the disadvantage of not having actual racing tyres, making Honda Racing India aim for a top-10 finish in the 2019 ARRC season. Softer Dunlop tyres are used during the Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) but back in India, it is the medium MRF tyres that are used for national championships.
It worked as a big disadvantage for the Indian riders as their competitors had more track time on actual tyres, going into races.
A concerned Honda brought it to the notice of its tyre supplier MRF, which started to provide slick tyres along with the stock tyres.
“The first season was a learning curve for us. We realised that not having Dunlop tyres in India was a big disadvantage. MRF came out to support and provided slick tyres from latter half of the season.
“It has definitely helped because our riders had zero experience on slick tyres before,” said Prabhu Nagaraj, who looks after Honda’s Motorsport operations.
The availability of slicks have allowed the riders to clock faster times.
“Our riders have now opened up more on corners. Their timing on corners has improved round by round. Now even our young riders back home are practicing on slick tyres and in future it will be a big help to them,” said Nagaraj, who is Honda VP - Brand and Communications.
To help the riders Rajiv Sethu and rookie Senthil Kumar ? the team has also hired ex-Moto GP rider Tomoyashi Koyama for guidance and training.
It has also tied up with Thailand-based European company YSS for suspension expertise.
“Also now we have all four Indian technicians with the two bikes. It’s a proper Indian team at work,” Nagaraj said.
The team had finished 15th out of 23 teams in its maiden ARRC season in 2018, when Rajiv finished 27th in individual championship in the Asia Production 250 class.
This year, Rajiv is already at number 14 with eight points (5+3) in the inaugural round in Malaysia.
“We are eyeing a top-10 finish as a team this season. Rajiv is now matured and experienced and we are hoping for a top-10 finish for him. Senthil is rookie but he is learning fast, let’s hope he is in top-15 by the end of the season,” Nagaraj added.