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After two seasons in the intermediate category, two-times Grand Prix winner Khairul Idham Pawi (Petronas Sprinta Racing) is ready for a new challenge in 2019, with the Malaysian rider joining forces with a Malaysian team in Moto2™.
Ahead of the team launch on January 28th, Pawi talked about all things 2019 as he aims to build on his previous two seasons in the intermediate class:
What have you been doing during the winter break?
“I have been able to rest but not too much because I have been training hard to be ready for the new season. It will be a very important year for me because I want to take a step forward. I have been cycling, working in the gym and on my motorbike to be ready to get back on my Grand Prix bike.”
Presenting the Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team
When did you hear about the possibility of riding for PETRONAS Sprinta Racing this season and how did you feel about it?
“The first conversations took place halfway through last season. In the end, we reached an agreement and everything worked out well, so I am very happy and motivated to race with them for another season in Moto2.”
What does it mean to you to be a Malaysian rider in a Malaysian team?
“That is something very nice and very special for me, and it's something I am very proud of. Being in this team also allows me to work with other Malaysians who are also involved in this project.”
What was the feeling like with the team after the first test at Jerez?
“The feeling at the first test of preseason was really good. We were able to ride the Kalex with the new engine for the first time and everything was very positive because I felt comfortable working with the new bike and with the new staff. Together we will make a big family.”
This will be your third season in Moto2, your third on a Kalex but with a new engine for this season. Has the bike changed much from last year? What are your first impressions? Do you think it will be like starting from scratch?
“There are some differences between the two bikes. I also liked the one from last season but the characteristics are a little different. Obviously, we need to work on the set-up because we still need to rack up a lot of test kilometres. As for the engine, the biggest difference in performance that I could feel was in low revs.”
Do you think you will have to change your riding style?
“I think so. It is a different bike so there will be some aspects of my riding that I will need to change in order to adapt to it.”
Highlights: Pawi claims first GP win for Malaysia
What else do you think you might need to change compared to last season on a personal level?
“Last year was tough for me but my intention for 2019 is to completely change my mentality, put all that behind me and start again, so that I can give my best in every race and achieve the best possible results. We have the potential to do it.”
What is the objective for the next test at Sepang in February?
“At the next test, we need to get lap after lap on the bike and gain the best possible feeling with the new engine. The Sepang International Circuit is our home track, we know it perfectly, so it will be easy to work here.”
How important is the PETRONAS SRT team presentation to you? What are you expecting?
“Of course I can't wait for the moment of the presentation next Monday 28th. I am sure it will be very nice to be there with the MotoGP and Moto3 riders and all our team. The location at the PETRONAS Twin Towers couldn't be better so I am sure it will be a historic day.”
How proud are you to make up part of the PETRONAS SRT family? Is it an extra motivation for you to continue taking your career forward within the same structure?
“I feel very comfortable in this team and I love being part of a structure like this, which is competing in all three categories. It is a project that would allow any rider to take steps forward in their career. I am very happy to belong to this huge family.”
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