In an exclusive interview with motogp.com ahead of his home race at the Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix, Zulfahmi Khairuddin discusses his 2012 Sepang podium, the 2013 Moto3™ title fight, his season so far and his hopes for the future.
The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider will be the focus of the home crowd’s attention this weekend and he is hoping to be fully competitive despite a tough season to date and a recent wrist operation.
Having suffered a crash in the final stages of the Moto3™ race at MotorLand Aragon, Khairuddin was diagnosed with a small fracture to his right wrist, and underwent surgery in Barcelona to secure the injury with titanium screws in order to be able to ride at Sepang.
“Coming back to Malaysia is always exciting for me,” Khairuddin states. “The number of MotoGP fans here is growing quickly and that makes me happy. Riding at home means doing a lot of off track events but I know that’s part of the job and I’m happy to attend.”
The 2013 has not brought big results for the Malaysian rider, but Khairuddin and his fans hope that he can have a successful ride this weekend at the scene of his first Grand Prix rostrum finish, which he achieved 12 months ago.
“It was brilliant to get my first podium here last year,” he explains. “The whole weekend went well from the first session to qualifying, then the race. I felt really good, I could have won, but I made a small mistake at the end and (Sandro) Cortese beat me. Anyway, it’s something that I will never forget.”
“After the strong finish to 2012 people ask me why I haven’t been amongst the top guys every Sunday this year,” Khairuddin adds. “The answer is simply that the level of competition has increased and I’ve struggled to adapt to the bike this year. I know we can run higher up and I believe we’ve found some solutions, which means I can now concentrate on going faster every lap and getting the maximum amount of points possible.”
Khairuddin will continue with Red Bull Ajo Motorsport next year and he hopes his team can finish this season on a high, with a successful title assault by his teammate Luis Salom.
“I’m convinced Salom will do better than in the last two races, he won’t need any help from me,” says the 21 year-old. “If he stays calm and focused he’ll win the title. But if I’m fighting for the win with him at Sepang like last year with Cortese I would definitely go for the 25 points.”