Friday, October 19, 2012

MOTORCYCLING: History beckons Hafizh

Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah with the FTR-Moto2 that he will be racing in the Malaysian Grand Prix this weekend. Pic by Goh Thean Howe
HAFIZH Syahrin Abdullah will not only start the Moto2 class in the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Sepang Circuit this Sunday as the best prepared wild card entry yet, but he could also create history.
With a top 15 finish, which arguably should be well within the 18-year-old's reach, he could become the first Malaysian wild card to score a point.
Currently leading the Moto2 privateers class and sixth overall in the Spanish CEV Buckler championship, many questions are asked not about how he will fare this weekend but about when he makes the big step to a full season in the FIM World Championship.
But sponsor Petronas and his team manager Barry Leong signalled another season in the Spanish championship would be the best option, as this will allow Hafizh time to be ready for the huge step up.
For now, Hafizh will need to prove that the investment has been worthwhile this weekend, on board his FTR-Moto2 bike which was unveiled yesterday.
Though much of the attention has been on Moto3 World Championship challenger Mohd Zulfahmi Khairuddin, Hafizh's confidence seems to suggest that local fans better pay attention to the Moto2 race as well.
"We had a good three-day test at the Sepang Circuit recently and I was feeling good with the set-up. In fact the times I clocked were better than I did in last year's race," said Hafizh, who will ride under Petronas Raceline Malaysia colours.
"So I'm pretty confident about this weekend. We'll just fine-tune a bit more between Friday (tomorrow) and race day on Sunday where I'll decide whether to try a different set-up or stick with the current one.
"I had a good experience last year and this time around I'm looking at bettering that performance. With the new bike and the experience I've had racing in Spain, I feel a top 15 finish should be my target."
Asked about Hafizh's path towards the future, Petronas Motorsports head Anita Azrina Abdul Aziz said they prefer to allow the youngster sufficient time to develop.
"The most important thing is for Hafizh to be ready. We also want to see his own commitment towards the cause and the results, which he has to prove, as the next step is a big step forward," said Anita.
"At the same time, we are not about to put pressure on him to step up. We want him to develop and improve himself. So maybe another year in the Spanish CEV championship, then we can think about moving up into the world championship."

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