Daredevil ride by Hafizh propels him to fourth place
IT was nothing short of an incredible day as soon after Zulfahmi Khairuddin’s first podium celebration, another Malaysian wonderkid gave the packed grandstand plenty to cheer.
Wildcard rider Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah put up an unbelievable ride that propelled him from 27th on the starting grid to fourth at the finish line of the Moto2 race.
It was the best ever finish by a wildcard rider in Moto2 history. Hafizh is also the first Malaysian wildcard rider to score a points finish in history.
Torrential downpour delayed the start by 30 minutes and it was already declared a wet race when Hafizh got off to a perfect start as the lights went off and rocketed to 14th by the third sector of the first lap.
From there, the young rider rode like a daredevil to improve his race position and was already mixing it up with the leading group by the fifth lap.
An amazing trio of overtakes saw the young wildcard pushing past Anthony West, weaving past Alex De Angelis and then out-braking Gino Rea to lead the Moto2 race for three full laps.
However, Hafizh had to concede the lead to the top three riders on Lap 13 when tyre degradation began to take its toll and he opted to focus on maintaining his position in fourth spot.
As the storm worsened, race direction was finally forced to red flag the race on Lap 17.
As such, results were taken from Lap 15, which saw Angelis announced as the winner in 36:57.793, West in second place in 36:58.503 and Rea third (36:59.196) ahead of Hafizh (37:00.734).
The 18-year-old’s performance captivated the media in the paddock and he earned 13 points for his hard work, surpassing even Thai Ratthapark Wilairot, who has eight points in his full Moto 2 season.
Hafizh even set the fastest lap of the race, clocking 2:23.707 when he was leading the race.
“I pushed hard, step-by-step, to reach the front group. At the beginning of the race, half the track was dry which allowed me to put in some really quick laps.
“Unfortunately, when the rain came down again, I had no more treads left on my rear tyre and I could do nothing when the full-season riders powered past me.
“In all, I am really happy with my achievement today and I thank my team and my sponsors who have nurtured me so far,” said Hafizh.
Creating new records and smashing old ones is nothing new for the Petronas Raceline Malaysia rider.
Hafizh had been creating waves since he first entered the Malaysian Cub Prix scene at the tender age of 13. He still holds the record as the youngest Cub Prix champion after winning the Novice title in 2009 and the Expert CP130 title in 2010.
He is also the youngest rider to have ever scored a win in the SuperSports 600cc class of the Petronas Asia Road Racing Championship, a feat accomplished last year when he out-raced world-class rider Katsuaki Fujiwara in Qatar.