On the special day of 10.10.10 when Sepang International Circuit (SIC) crowned two new world champions from Spain – Toni Elias and Jorge Lorenzo – Malaysia, which is very much new player in motorsports as compared to the European nation, also saw good prospects in its future for motorsports.
Fresh for a landmark announcement to extend its contract to host the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix for another three years until 2013, the 20thedition of the Malaysian GP drew a total of 62,141 spectators for the race and more than 105,000 over the three days.
It was a record attendance in the 20 years of the event which traced back to 1991 to the days of the old Batu Tiga Circuit in Shah Alam; reflecting a stronger interest in the Malaysian public for the event and motorsports in general.
SIC Chief Executive Officer Razlan Razali was naturally ecstatic with the response; stressing it again proved the pulling strength of having Malaysian riders on the grid to woo in the local spectators. Last year, SIC and its partners introduced the GP Wildcard Programme; and had Zulfahmi and Elly Idzlianizar Ilias on the grid to attract the local attendance.
A bigger impact, however, was made by Malaysia on track. Coming to Sepang for his 14th race in his debut season, Muhammad Zulfahmi Khairuddin came close to scoring another world championship point with 16th placing while wildcard rider Mohd Zamri Baba finished commendable 22nd in a field of 39 riders in his first ever Moto 2 race.
Indeed, the PETRONAS SIC TWMR Malaysia ace exceeded everyone expectations as he completed the 18-lap race in a total time of 41:46.031s to finish the race in 22nd spot out of 39 riders in a hard fought race. In addition to that, Zamri set his personal fastest lap of 2:11.175s in the second last lap of the race.
Having started 31st position on the grid, Zamri who was not affected by yesterday’s crash made his way up the field slowly. In the first lap he ranked 33rd and drop to 35th position in the following lap but he did not give up and was determined to improve on his placing. From lap 3 onwards, he gradually moved up and managed to cross the finish line in a remarkable 22nd position.
Satisfied with his results, Zamri commented, “I am so happy to have finished the race with the middle group because it was a very tough race. The riders were on a different level altogether- superior on so many levels. They were faster and better and it was a great experience to compete with them!” said the Klang born rider.
For the 18-year old Zulfahmi who rides for Team AirAsia Sepang International Circuit Racing (AASIC), it was a case of too near, yet too far.
“Sixteenth is probably the worst position of all: so close to the points, you almost could feel them, you can almost catch them .., but they elude you,” said Zulfahmi, who like Zamri also crashed in qualifying yesterday.
Nevertheless, team principal Fiorenzo Caponera saw plenty of positives from the performance of Zulfahmi in his first home race since he started his MotoGP 125cc world championship journey this season.
“It is never easy to cope the pressure to come to a home race … especially for the first home race in the world championship anyhow, he showed good things over the weekend and had again proved his potential,” Caponera said of his young charge from Malaysia.