PETALING JAYA: It’s pretty obvious now why the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) have earmarked Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah to be Malaysia’s first MotoGP rider.
The 19-year-old, nicknamed Pescao (fish in Spanish), auditioned for the role in the best possible way – finishing a creditable third – in the Moto2 race of the San Marino Grand Prix yesterday.
The Petronas Raceline Malaysia rider, starting 14th on the grid, worked his way up to finish the 26-lap contest in 51:47.584 behind winner Dominique Aegerter (51:39.709) and second-placed Thomas Luthi (51:41.109), both from Switzerland, at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli.
Two-time Moto3 champion Khairul Idham Pawi made it a great day for Malaysia after coming in ninth in the chaotic wet race that saw only 16 of the 31 Moto2 riders completing the race.
The only other time he secured a top-three finish was at the Malaysian Grand Prix in 2012 as a wildcard entry.
“I’m really pleased with this top-three finish. It’s a result to cherish,” said Hafizh.
“I can’t thank my team enough for working so hard to prepare such a fantastic bike for me that led to this fine outing this week.
“Also thanks to manager Razmin (Mazli Abdul Razak), who has been pushing me over the years, my family, friends and fans back home. This podium is for all of you.”
Hafizh also said he was inspired by the Malaysian contingent’s overwhelming success at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.
“I was really confident this weekend and one of the reasons being the national contingent’s superb performance at the SEA Games,” said Hafizh.
“They won so many gold medals and I did not want to be outdone by them. I was also determined to make the country proud in San Marino this week.”
The result will surely boost Hafizh’s confidence greatly as he has been struggling to impress this season.
Hafizh’s previous best this season was an eighth placing at the Dutch Grand Prix in June.
The 16 points earned from this week’s race will see him move up by three rungs to No. 10 in the championship standings.
Khairul is 25th with just nine points.
In Moto3, Adam Norrodin finished out of the points for the first time in three races after crashing in the 18th lap.