HAFIZH Syahrin will ride for Tech3 Yamaha at the upcoming Thailand test, increasing speculation he will become Malaysia’s first MotoGP racer.
The 23-year-old had not been among the riders expected to be under consideration for the seat unexpectedly vacated by Jonas Folger a fortnight ago.
However, Syahrin announced his departure from the Malaysian-backed Moto2 team he had been expected to race for in 2018 — replaced by countryman Zulfahmi Khairuddin — leaving him free to make the step up.
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“First of all, I want to thank Herve Poncharal for giving me this opportunity and of course the entire Monster Yamaha Tech3 team. I’ll try to do my very best during these three days in Thailand,” Syahrin said.
“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.”
Syahrin first rose to prominence with a stunning wildcard ride at his home Moto2 grand prix in 2012, leading in putrid conditions at Sepang before slipping to fourth at the flag. History records it as his maiden podium, elevated a place with Anthony West’s retrospective suspension.
He stepped up to the world championship full time in 2014 and has finished inside the top 10 in the end-of-year points for the past two years.
Last year marked his first proper trip to the podium, finishing second at Misano and third at Motegi — both races impacted by rain.
“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 Tech3 team,” team boss Herve Ponharal said.
“Right now, it is only three days, but I am more than convinced that Hafizh is going to show us what he can do.”
A final decision on who will race the bike in 2018 is expected to be made after the Thailand test session, set to take place at the Chang International Circuit from February 16-18.
“As I always said, to have a young rider is much more meaningful for the team than having an already established rider,” Poncharal added.
“Let’s do the test, I’m already full of excitement and optimism and really soon after Buriram we will take a final decision.”