Henning Successful at AFM Round 1
Ari Henning participated in round 1 of the AFM season at Buttonwillow this past weekend, snagging second place finishes in both 250 Superbike and 250 Production aboard his Werkstatt Racing Honda CBR250R.
Ari was gridded on the second row for 250 Superbike and worked his way from fifth to second place by the end of lap one, maintaining that position for the rest of the race. “AFM allows 450 singles to run in 250 Superbike [an artifact of the 250cc two-stroke days], so first place went to the guy on the big thumper,” says Ari. “I couldn’t catch him, and Mark McKinney couldn’t catch me, so I was cruising on my own.”
250 Production was considered by most to be the most exciting race of the weekend, and took Ari wholly by surprise. “There were no challengers in 250 Superbike, so I didn’t expect much excitement in Production, but I was some kind of wrong!” Again Henning started from the second row, and after settling into second place behind Mark McKinney, both riders were overtaken by young rider Kenny Andrews and former class champion Kirk Korenko. “I hadn’t seen either of these guys in Superbike and, we were gridded with some bigger bikes, so it took a moment to realize that they were on Ninja 250s and in my class. As soon as I figured it out, I put the hammer down,” says Ari.
It took Ari a lap and a half to dispatch Korenko, and then he engaged Kenny in a heated battle for the lead. The two passed, drafted, and repassed each other several times per lap, each rider and machine providing advantages in different parts of the track. “I had him in some corners, but he had me in the straits. Out in the open I was only seeing 90 mph through Riverside, but with the draft we were both pulling over 100 through that turn. That’s only 25 mph off a 600’s speed through there. We were hauling!” Both riders clicked off numerous laps in the 2:06 and then 2:05 range. The previous lap record, set in 2012 by Vision Hayes on a Ninja 250, was a 2:07.
“It was incredible racing,” says Ari. “I slid the front end through half the corners on the track. In the last turn of the last lap I thought I had Kenny set up for a draft-pass for the lead, but I tucked the front charging the corner and ran wide.” Anderson out-rode Henning, and set a new 250 track record of 2:05.3 in the process. Ari’s best lap was a 2:05.5.
The success of the weekend is overshadowed by the fact that young Kenny was seriously injured in an accident on his 125 GP bike later in the day. In such a hideous tragedy Kenny later succumbed to his injuries. For more information on Kenny and to show your support for him and his family, please visit Kenny’s Facebook Fan Page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kenny-Anderson-Fan-Page/189849981060321?fref=ts