Hafizh Syahrin has produced his best MotoGP race performance since the German round to take 12th place for Monster Yamaha Tech 3 and kick-start his charge against Franco Morbidelli for the top rookie honour.

The Malaysian rider conceded that he struggled for pace through practice and qualifying but fixes during the race enabled him to climb up the order for 12th place in the first-ever Thailand MotoGP race.

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Having profited from Yamaha’s surprise turn in pace – with factory riders Maverick Vinales third, Valentino Rossi fourth and Tech 3 team-mate Johann Zarco in fifth – Syahrin has trimmed the points deficit to Morbidelli to five points with four races to go in the battle for the top rookie spot.

“I’m really happy to be back in the points,” Syahrin said. “In the beginning of the weekend, FP1 until Qualifying, I was always in P18, so I felt a bit disappointed to myself, but I never gave up. I was really working hard with the team and they believed in me, which is what I needed.

“In the beginning of the race, my bike was overheating. The oil temperature was too hot and I didn’t feel the power of the bike. I tried to understand and try to think what I can do, so I decided not to use any slipstream because the bike was so hot.

“So, I first passed [Takaaki] Nakagami and thought I can catch up with Morbidelli, I passed him and then I tried to keep the rhythm. I was really consistent.

“But still, I need to work hard in the next rounds and try to get closer to Morbidelli again. Now we made two points on him, but it’s still five to go, so we have to try to be in front of him for the rest of the season. Now we start to believe in our capacity, the bike worked well, I chose the right tyre and overall, we were working very well. I’m truly happy.”

Syahrin could take the MotoGP top rookie spot despite not expecting to be on the grid this year having been a late replacement at Tech 3 for Jonas Folger who withdrew from the 2018 season due to an ongoing illness.

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