The Sepang team may have made most of its headlines due to a stunning rookie MotoGP season with Fabio Quartararo.

But in a case of there's nothing quite like winning, John McPhee's Moto3 victory was picked as the favourite moment of the year by both Team Principal Razlan Razali and Team Director Johan Stigefelt.

Sepang had been trying to win a grand prix since taking over the former AirAsia Caterham squad for 2015. New signing McPhee broke that drought in dramatic style with a 0.1s victory at Le Mans, where the Scotsman delivered his first pole, podium and win with the team.

"There are two moments that I’ve reflected on a lot. Number one was John’s win at the French Grand Prix, with the team able to get our first taste of victory," Razali said.

"After that, it was the first podium of Fabio in Catalunya, which was also an amazing moment. Of course, we had seven pole positions all season, but to get on the podium for the first time in our rookie season was just fantastic.”

“I have two favourite moments of the year, starting with John’s first win for the team," added Stigefelt. "It was a big relief for us because we’ve worked for five years in Moto3 and I pushed this year to have a top rider in the class.

"Signing John, I knew that he would be a good rider, and it only took five races to have pole position and a win.

"The second big moment was Fabio’s pole and Franco’s second place on the grid in Jerez. We went there with a brand-new hospitality, new trailers and a whole new set-up in Europe. We made a big impact before we even went out on track, and the pole was quite surreal.”

McPhee went on to end the season fifth in the world championship, which was also the final championship position for premier-class rookie Quartararo on the new Petronas Yamaha entry.

The young Frenchman was the surprise of the MotoGP season as he blasted to 13 front-row starts, six pole positions and seven podiums, twice battling Marc Marquez for victory on the final lap of a race. Team-mate Franco Morbidelli collected four front-row starts and a best result of fifth on his way to tenth in the world championship.

“I’d never have believed them if someone had told me the great results we’d achieve in our first year," admitted Razali.

With a victory under their belts in Moto3, strengthened two-rider line-up in Moto2 and upgraded Yamaha machinery for Quartararo in MotoGP, Stigefelt knows expectations will be even higher next season.

“Starting 2019 like we did, the pressure will be on now for 2020," Stigefelt said. "This season was the honeymoon, but now we need to live up to our results and our image. We need to keep the team happy and smiling as we do it as well. There will be a bigger challenge, but we’re ready to meet it.

"We’ve set the bar high, but the target will be to raise it even higher.

"Everyone in the team is competitive and wants to do better - no one is happy until we’re performing at our expectations. 2019 was a tough year in Moto2 and it’s nice to have an experienced rider like Xavi Vierge and someone who is fresh and hungry in Jake Dixon.

"Jake can surprise and Xavi just needs fine-tuned to be at the top. In Moto3, we’ve set the bar high with John and we know what we need to work on to be at the front every weekend.

"With Pawi coming back to Moto3, it will also be a challenge - but he know the class and the bike and he had success there in the past. I am looking forward to seeing him and John working together throughout the year."

 

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