What next for the future of Malaysian wild card Hafizh Syahrin ?
In a Moto2 race full of surprises and an unusual looking podium with not a Spaniard in sight, the wild card ride from Malaysian rider Hafizh Syahrin on his Petronas Raceline bike still deservedly caused a stir, and not just for the locals whipped up into a frenzy after Moto3 home racer Zulfahmi Khairuddin continued to push the boundaries with a new best of second while continuing to add to the best ever points tally by a Malaysian rider he is setting this season.
Syahrin impressed using his home track knowledge and skills currently being honed in the Spanish Moto2 Championship, where he is leading the privateer points standings and is sixth overall, with strong but safe overtaking moves in the treacherous conditions at Sepang.
Eventually finishing fourth at the red flag behind the podium men Alex DeAngelis, Ant West and Gino Rea the teenager was still in contention for a rostrum if the conditions hadn’t worsened after making his way to the front of the field from 27th place on the grid.
He achieved this in only his second grand prix racing start, after riding a Moriwaki in the Malaysian Moto2 Grand Prix in 2011. It is the best position achieved so far by a wild card entry in the class.
As much as it would be interesting to see if his talents can extend beyond his home track this currently seems unlikely as the Petronas team have told website NST.com that the 18 year old is currently tied into a long term contract with them which they have no plans to change or be bought out of, although his performance has prompted them to consider further wild card rides in Moto2 next year and perhaps a full season in 2014, with the team moving into the World Championship with Syahrin.
Petronas Motorsports boss Anita Azrina Abdul Aziz stressed the intention not to let their rider slip away:
“He is not for sale. He is on a long term contract with us. We intend to see him develop with us and move him up gradually when he is ready to take the big step.”
Pertronas Raceline manager Barry Leong revealed the team had discussed doing more next season but are uncertain their rider is ready for the move into the World Championship and ruled out giving Syahrin a full season in Moto2 next year:
“We have time because Hafizh is young. So we’d like to see him develop and be ready before we move him up. For now the plan is another season in the Spanish Championship, with an eye on putting him into the World Championship in 2014.”
Syahrin himself added he wants to stay with his current team due to the opportunities they have afforded him:
“ I am committed to my current team and sponsors. If I move up I want to bring my team and sponsors with me, to do it together.”
Dubbed ‘the king of pocket bikes’ as a child after starting riding on the machines aged nine, Syahrin was discovered by Leong whilst dominating the scene before hitting his teenage years and has ridden under his guidance at the Petronas Raceline Malaysia team since he was fourteen, winning the novice Malaysian Cub Prix championship in 2009 and the CP130 class the following year. The team have also run the youngster in the Petronas Asia road racing championship in 2010/11and the Australian national championship.