There was good news for Hafizh Syahrin and for Malaysia this afternoon, when Monster Yamaha Tech3 confirmed that the 23 year old will join Johann Zarco in the team as a full time rider for 2018. He will be the first of his countryman ever to race in the premier class of motorcycle racing.
The confirmation follows a successful test in Thailand, during which time Hafizh, known to his fans as ‘Pescao’, gelled well with the team and brought his lap times down progressively to finish just 1.7 seconds down on Dani Pedrosa, who clocked up the fastest time of the weekend. That was despite a scary looking highside on Saturday, when he was caught cold by his Michelin tyres on an outlap.
“I’m incredibly delighted after receiving the good news that I will ride with Monster Yamaha Tech3 in 2018,” said Hafizh. “Following three very interesting and great days of testing in Buriram, where I learned a lot, I want to thank my crew again, especially Nico and Maxime, but also Johann and Laurent for their advices. In just a short time, I really learned to fully control a MotoGP bike, which is still unbelievable for me. I’ll try to do my best and will give all I have this year. I want to thank Hervé, Yamaha Motor Corporation, Monster and the entire Tech3 team to believe in me and giving me this fantastic opportunity to compete full season in MotoGP. Thank you to my family, that always supported me to make this dream come true, especially my father, plus thanks to my fans and of course to Razlan. I’m looking forward to test again in Qatar and I’ll be even more motivated. Honestly, I can’t wait for the season to start. I’m just overwhelmed!”
Sepang International Chief Executive, Razlan Razali, added ““The recent test in Buriram was already history made for Hafizh. This official announcement of Hafizh competing the full season with Monster Yamaha Tech3 team is the biggest announcement and achievement for a Malaysian rider after more than 26 years of Malaysia hosting MotoGP. It is also a fantastic news for the Asian region. I must thank Hervé Poncharal for this opportunity, his faith and confidence in Hafizh. We will now hand over Hafizh in his good care for him to be developed into a better, competitive and complete MotoGP rider.”
Team Manager Herve Poncharal had already stated his wish to keep the Malaysian and is now happy that the deal is done: “I’m really happy to announce that Hafizh Syahrin will be the second Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider alongside Johann Zarco. It’s been a tough time since we heard from Jonas Folger, that unfortunately, he decided not to race in 2018 in order to look after his health and try to fully recover. It has been a long process to find somebody, who could be the one. In Sepang I met Razlan Razali, we were just chatting and now and then you have crazy ideas, which are sometimes the ones that bring the best result. I would like to thank Razlan Razali for his passion, his contagious energy and the involvement he has for MotoGP racing and for the sport in general, plus to support Hafizh Syahrin to climb the last step to the premier class. We had to convince all the people around us, that Hafizh is going to be a good MotoGP rider. Therefore, we had to give him a tough task during the three days of testing in Buriram. In the end, he did a tremendous job, he fulfilled the mission. Yamaha was more than happy with his performance and the whole Tech3 team was delighted. I am very honored and proud to give him this chance and I know this is going to be something historical, because it’s the first time that a Malaysian rider is racing a full season on a MotoGP bike and we know how popular our sport in this part of the world is.
“I want to tell Hafizh: Welcome in our family! We will take care of you like our son and I’m quite sure we can have a great season. You can learn from the team, from Johann. Thank you for your enthusiasm and for your involvement. I can’t wait to be in Qatar with you on our bike.”
The MotoGP final test will begin on 1st March, to be followed by Round 1 of the MotoGP World Championship on 16th.