Hafizh Syahrin looks set to spend another year in Moto2, before a possible move to MotoGP.

Currently eleventh in the intermediate-class standings for Petronas Raceline Malaysia, Syahrin has been linked with MotoGP for 2018. Most notably, as reported yesterday, the proposed second seat at LCR Honda:

"It's not a secret that the Malaysian government for example is really interested in having a Malaysian rider in the MotoGP class," LCR boss Lucio Cecchinello told Crash.net. "The problem they have is they don't really have a competitive Malaysian rider. But they are really keen to support a similar programme.

"It's not a secret that Honda HRC - if Nakagami will definitely perform in Moto2 - would be possible, they would support him in a programme in MotoGP. But this decision has not been taken because, unfortunately, at the moment Nakagami is not in the top three of the championship.

"Or there is an option to find another Moto2 rider with a potential sponsor behind, which is difficult."

Cecchinello named 23-year-old Syahrin as the Malaysian rider being considered for the LCR seat, later in the interview.

Sepang International Circuit CEO Razlan Razali, who credits much of the Malaysian Grand Prix success story to their support programme for home riders in Moto3 and Moto2, previously confirmed a local MotoGP rider is now required to take the event to even greater heights.

As such Sepang would be willing to step in, possibly alongside the government and/or Syahrin's state-owned sponsor Petronas, to back his bid for a MotoGP seat. However, it is now looking like 2019 at the earliest.

"A Malaysian in MotoGP would increase our spectator numbers even further and we would support Hafizh if needed," Razali told Crash.net.

"We did speak to some teams, but we think 2018 is too early for Hafizh in MotoGP.

"Instead the goal now is for Hafizh to establish himself as a regular top five finisher and podium contender in Moto2 before going to MotoGP, possibly in 2019."

Syahrin's best result is third as a wild-card in the wet 2012 Malaysian Moto2 race, following the disqualification of Anthony West, with a high of eighth so far this season.

Over 150,000 fans attended last year's Malaysian round, including a sold out race day attendance of almost 90,000. This year's target is close to 170,000 fans.

"Tickets for this year's Malaysian MotoGP are going even quicker than last year and we could be sold out by the end of July," Razali revealed.

Sepang has the option of opening up extra grass hillstands to boost capacity, if needed.

By Peter McLaren

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