Jagan takes slender lead in National Motorcycle Championship

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Chennai: Jagan Kumar (TVS Racing) grabbed a win to take a six-point lead on the Super Sport Indian (165cc) leaderboard in the fifth and final round of the MRF MMSC fmsci Indian National Motorcycle Racing Championship at the MMRT track here on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the 21-year-old from Kozhikode, Amarnath Menon (Gusto Racing) clinched the title in the Super Sport Indian (300-400cc) class with a race in hand while 19-year-old commerce student from Hyderabad, Sai Rahil Pillarishetty, racing in his first season, bagged the championship in the Novice (Stock, 165cc) class.

In Saturday’s race, Jagan trailed Rajiv Sethu (Honda Ten10 Racing) by one point and the victory took the TVS Racing star’s tally to 147. Sethu, who had led briefly when Jagan ran wide in the third lap, finished second to concede lead in the championship standings. KY Ahamed (TVS Racing) came in third.

“I am happy to win today. The bike felt good. I made a small mistake in the back ‘D’ when I ran wide and Sethu moved past me. But I overtook Sethu soon after and in the last two laps, opened up a good lead,” said Jagan who is seeking his third straight title.

For 18-year-old Sethu, also from Chennai, it was so near and yet so far. He did well to get to the front and even clocked the fastest lap of the race (01min, 57.964secs), bettering his qualifying time (01:58.987), but missed a gear at Turn-9 when on the attack in the penultimate lap and it allowed Jagan to open up a winning lead.

“Obviously, I am very disappointed. I had better pace today than in qualifying, but one mistake when I was on a charge, cost me. Tomorrow, I hope to do better. The pressure will be on Jagan since he is in the lead,” said Sethu.

Earlier, Amarnath Menon rode a relaxed race and collected just enough points to seal the championship with a fourth-place finish behind winner Deepak Ravi Kumar (Moto-Rev), Vivek Pillai (Rockers Racing) and Shreyas Sannake from Miraj.

Menon, who had started the season with five victories in six races, collected 12 points on Saturday, to take his aggregate to 167 while Ravi Kumar, his third win in a row, moved up to 141.

For Sai Pillarishetty, it turned out to be a glorious debut season. He finished third in the concluding race of the Novice (Stock, 165cc) class, behind Anup Kumar (RACR) and his Sparks Racing team-mate Peddu Sriharsha, also from Hyderabad. The podium and 15 points took Pillarishetty’s tally to 76, eight clear of Sriharsha.

In the Pro-Stock category, seven points separate leader Aravind Balakrishnan (Honda Ten10 Racing) and Aravind Ganesh (Moto-Rev) after they finished sixth and fourth, respectively, with one more race to be run on Sunday. S Sivanesan (Team Alisha Abdullah), Naresh Babu J (RACR) and Kannan Karnan (Rockers Racing) took the podium spots in that order.

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