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Hafizh Syahrin will become the first Malaysian rider on the grid in MotoGP™ history as he prepares to make his debut with the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team in 2018. After amassing three podiums in Moto2™ since 2012 and several other notable performances, Syahrin has so far adapted well to the premier class following his first test in Thailand.
His teammate for this season will of course be the fast Frenchman, Johann Zarco, who was complimentary of the Malaysian’s debut performance. “I’m really happy for him because he has a lot of humility. He’s a very clean rider, very smooth, so being smooth on the bike means he has more of a chance of being faster,” says Zarco.
Zarco and Goyon talk 'surprising' debut for Syahrin
“It’s not easy, but with all of the guys the team had to choose from at the end of last season, he has the biggest opportunity to grow, because he is younger and has more of a chance to listen.”
Making his MotoGP™ debut: Syahrin's first day at school
Syahrin finished the test 22nd out of 24 riders on the combined times, just over 1.7 seconds from the quickest pace. His Crew Chief for this year, Nicolas Goyon – who worked alongside Jonas Folger in 2017 – was encouraged by his performance at the Chang International Circuit: “I think we are all surprised by his level. We knew his talent was great in the wet and in the dry he had some good races to end up tenth in the Championship last year and ninth in 2016.
“We didn’t really know what to expect, but we are all surprised and it’s a good surprise, because he listened to us, he changed his way of riding from the start of the test and this is good for us. It wasn’t an easy weekend for him and we must remember that the last time he rode a bike was in Moto2™ last year in Valencia. New circuit, new bike, everything is new, but I think that his natural style suits this bike quite well as he’s quite smooth riding the bike, which is perfect for the Yamaha.”
Professor Miller: Syahrin learns about MotoGP™
Goyon continues as he discusses that there is more time to be gained by adjusting the YZR-M1 in other areas: “We still haven’t played with the electronics; on the last run we tried to a little bit and it was a big help for him.
“On a MotoGP™ bike you have so many parameters to play with, but it’s just the beginning and we’re just starting to play with these parameters, so there’s room for improvement for sure.”
Syahrin’s next opportunity out on track will come at the final pre-season test in Qatar from the 1st – 3rd March.