Kikuchi shows confidence, but a crash ends race
The first three races of the 2014 season for Hiroyuki Kikuchi was not even close to satisfactory for him. He had to do something for Round 4 of the Japanese Championship, held at Sportsland SUGO this weekend. What he did was to bring a new suspension package.
Two sessions on Friday did not allow Kikuchi to tune in to his best setting. Qualifying was difficult for him without the best set-up and would qualify 18th. He was suffering from an over-sliding rear. He would not feel it as the data would show, and from the feedback he got from his teammate. His machine was sliding too much at the corners.
Kikuchi tuned his machine for Sunday’ race, and saw a glimpse of light during the morning set-up on Sunday. He would fine tune it for the race. Weather haunted the race track on Sunday, with wet conditions throughout the day.
Starting from the 18th grid, Kikuchi made a great start, and jumped up to 13th on the opening lap. As he swerved through other riders, it did not take time for him to jump up his position. By the end of Lap 3, we was already in the top 10 at P9, and in Lap 4, he was already a podium contender, running at P4. By the end of Lap 7, he has passed 15 riders, and have positioned himself in P3. On Lap 9, he would make it up to P2, and all he had left was the race leader, who was about 7 seconds ahead of him.
The race was still half way at this moment, and by lapping a faster lap than the race leader, it was obvious that Kikuchi would catch the leader. However, in Lap 10, Kikuchi’ rear slides in Turn 4, and gets on the white line. This made his machine high-side, and resulted in a crash that would take Kikuchi out of the race.
(photo by Shigeto Kawakami)