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Not only was Sunday a debut podium for rookie sensation Fabio Quartararo in only his seventh premier class Grand Prix but it was also a debut top three finish for the equally sensational rookies, the Petronas Yamaha SRT squad. The Malaysian outfit have come a long way from their first strides into the MotoGP™ paddock as the Sepang International Circuit Team in 2015.
With Jakub Kornfeil and Zulfahmi Khairuddin, matching the team’s aim of promoting young Malaysian riders and giving them a platform to develop their full potential, they earned their first World Championship podium at the 2015 British GP thanks to Czech rider Kornfeil finishing second.
Petronas Yamaha SRT make their mark in MotoGP™
They didn’t have to wait too much longer for more success though, with Kornfeil again stepping on to the podium at the final round of the year in Valencia. Twelve months later, now with Adam Norrodin onboard, they enjoyed home success with Kornfeil securing a third podium finish for the team at the Sepang International Circuit at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Two years later, in 2018, the team would expand further by entering a bike on the Moto2™ grid. Ridden by Khairuddin, and later Niki Tuuli, they earned their first points in the intermediate class at last year’s Thai Grand Prix. In July of the same year it was announced they would take their biggest leap to date by joining the MotoGP™ grid, in a partnership with Yamaha. The Petronas Yamaha SRT squad was born.
In the space of four months the team already have a handful of front row starts, two pole positions and a podium finish thanks to the exploits of Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli. But it’s not solely the MotoGP™ class where they have impressed. The team’s trophy cabinet also boasts a winners trophy from the French Grand Prix after John McPhee created history for the squad for winning in the Moto3™ class, their first World Championship victory.
Team principle Razlan Razali was at a loss for words following Quartararo’s Catalan GP success: “It’s an amazing feeling. We as a team are a rookie, we’re only four months old. Couple of months and we have our first pole position in Jerez, now a second this weekend. We’re all ecstatic and just lost for words. Unbelievable. The team have done such an amazing job to provide this good environment for the riders and I hate to say it, but we want more. We’ve loved this so much we want more podiums.”
The boss wants more and who would argue against either Quartararo or Morbidelli living up to his demands again. In their first World Championship race four years ago, they failed to score any points and now they’re fighting at the front in the premier class - an incredible journey that is a long way from finishing.