Malaysia now officially has its first ever MotoGP rider after confirmation that Hafizh Syahrin will take over from Jonas Folger at Monster Yamaha Tech 3.

Syahrin looked all but certain of the ride when he was named as testing for the team at Buriram and having passed the final audition with flying colours, outpacing three riders on the final day, a 2018 deal has now been announced.

"I’m incredibly delighted after receiving the good news, that I will ride with Monster Yamaha Tech3 in 2018," Syahrin said.

"Following three very interesting and great days of testing in Buriram, where I learned a lot, I want to thank my crew again, especially Nico and Maxime, but also Johann and Laurent for their advices. In just a short time, I really learned to fully control a MotoGP bike, which is still unbelievable for me.

"I’ll try to do my best and will give all I have this year. I want to thank Hervé, Yamaha Motor Corporation, Monster and the entire Tech3 team to believe in me and giving me this fantastic opportunity to compete full season in MotoGP.

"Thank you to my family, that always supported me to make this dream come true, especially my father, plus thanks to my fans and of course to Razlan. I’m looking forward to test again in Qatar and I’ll be even more motivated. Honestly, I can’t wait for the season to start. I’m just overwhelmed!”

Folger missed the final four rounds of last season with severe fatigue issues and, despite reports of a promising recovery, suddenly withdrew from the 2018 season on the eve of pre-season testing in January.

Syahrin now takes over the German's highly-competitive satellite M1 ride after four full seasons and three podiums in the Moto2 category. Two of Syahrin's rostrums came in the last six races of 2017, the other came as a wild-card at Sepang in 2012, albeit following a disqualification for Anthony West.

The popular Malaysian, 23, was due to race for the Sepang Circuit in the intermediate class this season, but has been replaced by countryman Zulfahmi Khairuddin. Sepang has long sought a local star in the premier-class, with CEO Razlan Razali giving his full backing to Syahrin's move.

“The recent test in Buriram was already history made for Hafizh," Razail said. "This official announcement of Hafizh competing the full season with Monster Yamaha Tech3 team is the biggest announcement and achievement for a Malaysian rider after more than 26 years of Malaysia hosting MotoGP.

"It is also a fantastic news for the Asian region. I must thank Hervé Poncharal for this opportunity, his faith and confidence in Hafizh. We will now hand over Hafizh in his good care for him to be developed into a better, competitive and complete MotoGP rider."

Click Here to read more from Razali, about just how big it is for Malaysia to finally have a MotoGP rider.

“I’m really happy to announce that Hafizh Syahrin will be the second Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider alongside Johann Zarco," added team boss Herve Poncharal. "It’s been a tough time since we heard from Jonas Folger, that unfortunately he decided not to race in 2018 in order to look after his health and try to fully recover. It has been a long process to find somebody, who could be the one.

"In Sepang I met Razlan Razali, we were just chatting and now and then you have crazy ideas, which are sometimes the ones that bring the best result. I would like to thank Razlan Razali for his passion, his contagious energy and the involvement he has for MotoGP racing and for the sport in general, plus to support Hafizh Syahrin to climb the last step to the premier class.

"We had to convince all the people around us, that Hafizh is going to be a good MotoGP rider. Therefore, we had to give him a tough task during the three days of testing in Buriram. In the end, he did a tremendous job, he fulfilled the mission. Yamaha was more than happy with his performance and the whole Tech3 team was delighted.

"I am very honored and proud to give him this chance and I know this is going to be something historical, because it’s the first time that a Malaysian rider is racing a full season on a MotoGP bike and we know how popular our sport in this part of the world is.

"I want to tell Hafizh: Welcome in our family! We will take care of you like our son and I’m quite sure we can have a great season. You can learn from the team, from Johann. Thank you for your enthusiasm and for your involvement. I can’t wait to be in Qatar with you on our bike.”  

There will now be just one more pre-season outing, in Qatar, before racing begins at the same Losail circuit on March 18.

Syahrin has thus been thrown in the MotoGP deep end - perhaps appropriately for a rider whose nickname is 'Pescao' ('The Fish'). Indeed, many will be curious to see Syahrin's renowned wet weather skills carry over to the M1.

Tenth overall in last year's Moto2 World Championship, Syahrin becomes the fifth rookie on this year's grid alongside fellow Moto2 graduates Franco Morbidelli (1st), Thomas Luthi (2nd), Takaaki Nakagami (7th) and Xavier Simeon (23rd).

Folger battled Marc Marquez for victory on his way to second place in his home Sachsenring round, while team-mate and fellow rookie Johann Zarco took three podiums, two poles and sixth in last year's MotoGP standings.



Loading Comments...