Following a week of speculation about the possibility of Hafizh Syahrin replacing the ailing Jonas Folger, Monster Yamaha Tech 3 have confirmed that the 23 year-old Malaysian will ride one of the team’s Yamahas at next week’s MotoGP Official Winter Test at Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand on 16-18 February.
Following the test, the team will decide whether to sign Hafizh as a full time rider for the 2018 season.
The withdrawal of the German rider has been a huge headache for team principle, Herve Poncharal, who had agreed with Yamaha, Monster and the other sponsors, that Tech 3 would be fielding what looked like a dream double act of Johann Zarco and Jonas Folger.
The 23 year old Malaysian has a more than respectable record in Moto2, finishing ninth and tenth in the championship in 2016 and 2017 and frequently featuring in the top six. He is an exceptional wet weather rider and claimed second at Misano and third at Motegi in the rain last season. If the test goes well and a deal can be sealed he will become the first Malaysian to race in the Grand Prix premier class.
“I’m really happy and honored to have the possibility to have Hafizh Syahrin with us for the test in Buriram,” said Poncharal. “As everybody knows, since Jonas Folger decided that he couldn’t race in 2018, we’ve been looking for who could be the right replacement rider. Following the Sepang test, we had many meetings and it has been decided that Hafizh Syahrin would be a very good choice for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team. Right now, it is only three days, but I am more than convinced that Hafizh is going to show us what he can do. He is young, only 23 years old, has already done some podiums in the Moto2 class, which is not easy. He ended inside the top 10 in the final ranking of Moto2 in 2017, which is a huge achievement, because I know how tough this category is. As I always said, to have a young rider is much more meaningful for the team than having an already established rider. Let’s do the test, I’m already full of excitement and optimism and really soon after Buriram we will take a final decision. Yet, I would like to thank Razlan Razali from Sepang International Circuit, who is the team manager of Hafizh Syahrin.”
Hafizh added, ““First of all, I want to thank Herve Poncharal for giving me this opportunity and of course the entire Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team,” added Hafizh. “I’ll try to do my very best during these three days in Thailand. For me, it’s a dream coming true to be able to ride a MotoGP machine. I have to admit, that I’m overly excited to get this chance. I hope I can be fast from the word go to show everybody what I’m capable of. In addition, I want to thank Razlan and all the people, who support me and made this possible. I’m incredibly happy and I’m looking forward to be in Buriram, because it will be the very first time ever I can ride a MotoGP bike. I know that I have to learn a lot aboad the Yamaha YZR-M1 and I’m eager to try to understand how the team works as I know that they are very experienced, so I want to make the most of their input. During this winter, I trained a lot, yet I hope this hard work pays off and I can’t wait to get this test started.”
Wroommm!! will be keeping a close watch from pit lane during the three day test.