Outstanding rider line-up for Sepang Racing Team
MotoGP rider Franco Morbidelli, four-time Suzuka 8 Hours winner Michael van der Mark and Malaysian star Hafizh Syahrin will pool their talents at the first-ever edition of the 8 Hours of Sepang.
Sepang Racing Team have made a grand entrance into the FIM EWC, having just announced an outstanding three-rider line-up for the first-ever edition of the 8 Hours of Sepang, the new round of the FIM Endurance World Championship to be held in Malaysia from 13 to 15 December 2019.
The Sepang Racing Team will enter a Yamaha YZF-R1 #21 to fly the Yamaha Factory Racing Team colours, win the 8 Hours of Sepang and qualify the bike for the 2020 Suzuka 8 Hours. The team will be targeting victory on their home ground with technical support from Endurance racing specialist YART Yamaha.
Franco Morbidelli, the 2017 Moto2 World Champion, is currently a MotoGP rider with Petronas Yamaha SRT. The Italian-Brazilian rider, who is familiar with both the Yamaha YZF-R1 and the Sepang track, is keen to try his hand at a new sport and keep racing during the MotoGP winter break.
Michael van der Mark brings his insider knowledge of the Yamaha #21 and his experience in 8-hour races to the team. The Dutch rider – the 2014 FIM Supersport Champion – is currently among the leaders in the Superbike series, and therefore no stranger to the Sepang track. Above all, he is a Suzuka 8 Hours veteran, having won the race four times, in 2013 and 2014 and again in 2017 and 2018 with Yamaha Factory Racing Team.
Hafizh Syahrin is Malaysia’s star rider. He knows the Sepang track inside out, having competed there in various classes since his racing debut, and is accustomed to Sepang’s hot and humid weather.
The 8 Hours of Sepang will be held as part of a car and bike double-header event in Malaysia. From 13 to 15 December 2019, the Sepang International Circuit will also host the final of the FIA WTCR/Oscaro world championship with the backing of Tourism Malaysia.
“I’m curious to see how an endurance race format suits me, and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s something different, it’s nice, and when Razlan asked me to do it I thought: Sure, why not? The combination of Yamaha and Sepang Racing Team means it should be a strong package, and it’ll be good to race with a production bike again. Riding bikes is always good for staying in shape, so it’s nice to be able to race in December. I’ve trained with a YZF-R1 before so I’ve got an idea of what to expect, but I’m sure the endurance superbike will be very different. I might make the most of the trip and use it to enjoy a holiday in Malaysia as well.”
Michael van der Mark
“When I first saw there would be an EWC round at Sepang in December I knew it would be cool to race it so I’m really proud that the team asked me – plus how can you say no to such a great team and race at their home track? Sepang is hot and humid and it will be really hard work – but that’s also the part of the challenge of endurance racing and I really enjoy it. I will do everything to help the team with the bit of endurance experience I have because we want to fight for the victory! We’ve got a really strong squad but we have to be smart and consistent, because for sure our goal will be to win the team’s home race!”
“I’m really looking forward to taking part in the first EWC race in Malaysia. It’s not my first endurance race as I’ve ridden at the Suzuka 8 Hours before, but it’ll be very different riding in front of our home fans! It’s a really good opportunity for me to test my physical endurance because it’ll be a very long and hot race, and the most important thing will be how we work as a team. We’ll try our best to do a good job, but we’ve got a great team and some very strong team-mates. I’m really excited to share a bike with Franky and Michael, because they’re good riders and Michael has a lot of experience with the Yamaha. I can’t wait to get going!”
Razlan Razali, CEO of Sepang International Circuit
“We’re very excited to have a Sepang Racing Team entry in the first 8 Hours of Sepang. There’s no better way to support Tourism Malaysia’s Visit Truly Asia Malaysia 2020 campaign than this event and our international line-up of riders competing in it. The weekend will be exceptional as it’s the EWC alongside the WTCR – with the worlds of two and four-wheel motorsport sharing the same track on the same weekend. These Races of Malaysia will provide an incredible spectacle with truly international appeal. We have faith that Franco, Michael, Hafizh and YART will deliver and we’re targeting the very top step of the podium.”
François Ribeiro, Head of Eurosport Events
“Having these three top-level riders is very good news for the FIM Endurance World Championship and the 8 Hours of Sepang. The mid-December date chosen for the race enables teams to recruit MotoGP and World Superbike riders after their season winds up. The Sepang International Circuit has become a significant player in top-level motorcycle racing, which augurs well for a successful 8 Hours of Sepang.”