Malaysia has finally got a full fledge MotoGP teams with representation in all 3 classes, the MotoGP, Moto2 & Moto3.
Petronas Sepang Racing Team or Petronas SRT launched the teams today in the iconic Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur. The invited guests, members of the media and fans were introduced to the riders and the livery of their machines.
In the Premier class, Petronas SRT Yamaha will be the sole non-factory / satellite Yamaha team, replacing Yamaha Tech3. Riding an A-spec Yamaha M1 will be 24-year old Italian Franco Morbidelli who was crowned Rookie of the year in 2018 and a protégé of Valentino Rossi. Morbidelli will be teaming up with 19-year old French lad, Fabio Quartararo who was promoted from Moto2 where he was placed 10th in the overall ranking. Being one of the youngest MotoGP rider this season Quartararo will be riding a B+ specification Yamaha M1. But as Team manager for Petronas SRT Yamaha, Wilco Zeelenberg said, Fabio is a raw talent and is fast although he is still learning about the bike and the team.
During the launch, team principal, Dato’ Razlan who is the CEO of Sepang International circuit spoke about this “Project” that took a short 6 months to build. And of the challenges of building the team and getting to know one and another. But he is confident that this will be a great collaboration between Petronas and Sepang through the consolidation of resources and by sharing a common objective, which is the development of Malaysian Motorsports.
Dato’ Razlan also spoke on the opportunity for sole Malaysian Moto2 rider Khairul Idham Pawi to move up to the premier class in 2 years’ time if he can prove himself and be up in top 5 during his Moto2 stint. Wilco added that Pawi seems to be making good progress during last November testing in Jerez with the new Moto2 bike (Triumph supplied engine on a Kalex chassis). And that it was time for him to progress to a new team after 2 years with Honda. Pawi is indeed feeling the pressure as he is the only Moto2 rider in the team with no team mate to share and compare data and expectation is set high on him to deliver.
The riders for Petronas SRT Moto3 are Ayumu Sasaki & John McPhee. McPhee is on a mission to familiarize with the Honda machine as fast as he can after riding a KTM in 2018. Ayumu on the other hand will be busy getting to know his new crew chief, mechanics and team besides the 2019 Honda Moto3 machine.
Also present at the launch are President and Group CEO of Petronas, YBhg Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee, Petronas team Director for Moto2 and Moto3 Johan Stigefelt and YZR-M1 project leader (and General Manager of Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd.’s Motorsport Division) Kouichi Tsuji.