14 November 2013
Moto3: Khairuddin says farewell to KTM
“Next year I will go to a smaller team. I think it will do me good” – Zulfahmi Khairuddin.
Malaysian star Zulfahmi Khairuddin took part in his final Moto3 race for Red Bull KTM at Valencia on Sunday.
Khairuddin joined the factory Ajo team after a breakthrough 2012 season, which brought his first pole and podiums, but was left twelfth overall this year with a best race result of sixth.
Malaysian media are reporting that Khairuddin has signed to ride for Ongetta Honda.
Before he departed, Red Bull KTM conducted the following interview with Khairuddin...
With that thirteenth place in Valencia, you finished a fourth season in the World Championship. How would you sum up 2013?
"The truth is that we expected to do better when the year began. Honestly, we never fully adapted my riding style to the new bike. We struggled, especially in the first few races of the year. In the final stages of the season we found the most suitable setup for me and began to understand the benefits that we could get from the bike. I was very happy with the progress we had made, the problem was that we had dropped many points by the time we reached that stage. Moreover, a few weeks later I crashed in Aragon. It has been a tough year."
Did the crash at Aragon cut short your development and prevent a finish in the top six or seven places at the end of the season?
"Yes, I honestly think so. That is the main reason I could not finish the year in a better position. Crashing at Motorland Aragon left me with an injury that prevented me from doing well at several Grands Prix. It was not simply the hand injuries but also the strong blow to my back, which left me very sore for many weeks. The result of this bad luck was zero points at Aragon, not racing in Malaysia and riding with pain in Australia. Afterwards, in Japan, I crashed again. I've had a lot of bad luck this year."
If we analyse your year, you seem to have performed better in the races on the Friday and Saturday. Do you have this feeling?
"Probably yes, this year, but it's simply been because I almost always started from a low down on the grid so it is always easier to gain positions. The difficult thing is to be at the front and hold your position. Also, I have to say it has been the most competitive season that I've taken part in."
Of the 16 races you rode in, which was the best?
"Without a doubt, Misano. After fighting and working hard all season, we finally found a good setup for the bike and that was shown at that Grand Prix. I started from fourth position on the grid, the best of the year, and was sixth in the race. There was a very positive progression from Misano to now, nothing like at the beginning of the year. So from that race we didn't change too much with the bike —we focused on riding well and getting good results."
And the worst?
"My home Grand Prix in Malaysia. Having worked very hard for two weeks and enduring the pain in practice, I could not ride on the Sunday in front of my home crowd due to injury and I was really sad about that. To be honest, I have not recovered 100% from the pain in my hands and from wrist surgery in early October. That was the main problem in the final stretch: Riding too many races in discomfort. Even so, I'm very happy with how the team worked for me to have the best bike possible at each of the races and I want to thank them. Also, I want to thank KTM and everyone else who was by my side, spurring me on to go faster."
The race in Valencia was your final GP for Ajo Motorsport after three years. What is your final assessment of your time with this team?
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