Crash.net:

How close did things get with Lorenzo and Pedrosa?

Razlan Razali:

I won't comment so much on Lorenzo because, as you know we spoke in Mugello and at that time having a MotoGP team was just a concept. Nothing was set in stone for a team, so we couldn't even talk to anybody at that stage but somehow paddock rumours started circulating and he thought we were setting the team up for him. Which we weren't. But of course he surprised everyone and joined Honda, which is fine because he would have been expensive for our budget anyway!

But the Pedrosa [talks] were a reality. It was very, very close. In fact in spoke to Yamaha, Yamaha assured him they would give him all the support he needs. I sat down with him, together with Carmelo [Ezpeleta] and the same thing as well. But when a rider is not mentally sure about continuing to race, there's not much we can do.

But we were in serious discussions. When he decided to call it a day, he actually gave me a call and thanked me for the opportunity. He apologised for not responding quicker, but I can understand that it was a big decision for him [to retire] and I respect his decision. He was very professional about it all.

Crash.net:

What have you made of Hafizh Syahrin's debut season in MotoGP, losing out to Morbidelli by just four points in the Rookie standings?

Razlan Razali:

I had dinner with him [at Valencia] and said, 'how precious were those points that were lost?' So he did ponder a little bit on what could have been.

But I think he learned a lot this year. I think for him to challenge Franco over the season for top rookie is a commendable effort. But it also goes to show that the Yamaha is a great bike to ride and already for Frankie to be doing what he is doing on it now – it's still very, very early in testing - says something.

We're happy that Hafizh continues for a second year. The challenge for him is to be a MotoGP rider for as long as possible, which means continuing to focus and improve. He's still a kid, and very new to all this attention.

He will change bikes for 2019 but he will also have a full winter testing programme, which he didn’t have this year.

Crash.net:

How about the Malaysian Grand Prix. It continues to be a sold-out event, but what do you have planned for the future?

Razlan Razali:

I project that with the new Petronas Yamaha team we will see an even bigger Malaysian MotoGP in 2019. We have a very creative, aggressive title partner who wants to fully take advantage of this partnership with us. They've got some crazy plans in place! I think next year will be very interesting.

Crash.net:

Where will you put any extra people on race day?

Razlan Razali:

We may have to open up and cover another hill somewhere!

Crash.net:

Turning to Moto3 and Moto2, you have John McPhee and Khairul Idham Pawi joining, Ayumu Sasaki staying, Adam Norrodin leaving.

Pawi made history for Malaysia in his rookie grand prix season, but has then found Moto2 more tricky. What was the thinking behind the Pawi decision?

Razlan Razali:

Well, he's still our national treasure, as the only Malaysian to win a grand prix race in 2016. It's just unfortunate that he was then placed into Moto2 so early. I not sure what the plan was there. But still, it's been two years of valuable experience.

He came see us [after Valencia] and we were trying to motivate him but saying, 'hey, look you have two years to do something because we want you to be our first Malaysian MotoGP rider in this team'.

We also took him to the pits and he saw the set-up. That should give him the encouragement to be really motivated, focused and work hard. Because he knows if he does well there is a natural progression now within our structure to MotoGP. It's there waiting.

Crash.net:

What do you think Pawi needs to get his career back on track?

Razlan Razali:

We need to get into his mind and understand exactly what it is. We have Torlief [Hartelman] as our riding coach for MotoGP but he will also be watching and sitting down with Pawi during testing to figure out what he is all about. I have also stressed to Torlief the importance of Pawi to the team. So we hope we can do something, but again at the end of the day it's the individual who should not waste his opportunity.

Crash.net:

Pawi clearly has talent, winning two grand prix races in his rookie season…

Razlan Razali:

Correct. So something went wrong, somewhere. That means we need to figure it out.

Crash.net:

John said at Silverstone that having the stairway to MotoGP with Sepang was a big factor for him in joining the team. How about from your side, why did you want John?

Razlan Razali:

What we like about John is that he's a hard working guy. He's a fighter. Sometimes he came from the back and bulldozed his way through. Sometimes he's been unlucky in that he's crashed from a good position, so we did tell him 'try not to crash so much!' But third position at Valencia was a good ending to the season.

I think next year's very important for him. He's been in the championship for six years and if he wins the title, or is top three, then he deserves to go to Moto2 with us the following year. That's the plan. So he needs to do that.

Crash.net:

And you are keeping Ayumu on the other Moto3 bike…

Razlan Razali:

Same thing for Ayumu. Ideally probably two more years, but I'm sure looking at the structure right now I think he wants to promote himself as quick as possible. So I told him, 'the quicker you win the championship or top three in Moto3, the sooner you'll go to Moto2 and then this [MotoGP bike] could be yours one day.'

Crash.net:

You've supported Adam Norrodin for many years, was it a difficult decision to move him out of grand prix and into CEV?

Razlan Razali:

Yes, it was difficult. At the same time, we have a title partner that is looking for performance and at that moment Adam's performance was not so great. And also we were not able to get a second slot for Moto2, which spoilt a little bit of our plans.

But we still believe in him for the future, so it's not the end of it. Instead we'll take him out and start grooming him for Moto2 in the CEV for at least one or two years so that when he comes back into Moto2 here, he should be mid-field to begin with. That's what we want.

We have now a strong development programme. We're going into the European Talent Cup, CEV Moto3 and Moto2. Of course we have MotoE. So we have everything! But after the success of the Malaysian MotoGP the Government has seen that MotoGP is very important, hence a lot of focus in terms of development programmes.

The budget was approved by the government towards the development of two-wheel riders. So the support from the government is there which is very important because although we now have this structure for Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP we also need the talent to fill up those positions for the future. So that's what we are doing.

Crash.net:

Finally Razlan, is Bradley your best chance of a championship title in 2019, in MotoE?

Razlan Razali:

Of course!

In any championship we are not there just to make up the numbers. We actually had the right to have two MotoE bikes, but sometimes we have to be realistic and not take everything.

So we gave one slot up. Because if we are going to do it, we are doing it to win.

Then Bradley came into the picture and we were negotiating with him, alongside other teams as well. So we were delighted he decided to come with us.

 

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