Yamaha Sepang Racing: Malaysia’s heroes
Yamaha Sepang Racing – tipped as one of the strongest front-runners – bore out their favourite status during qualifying. The Yamaha 21 with Franco Morbidelli, Michael van der Mark and Hafizh Syahrin in the saddle will start from pole position at the first edition of the 8 Hours of Sepang tomorrow (Saturday). A closer look at the team flying the Malaysian flag high.
MotoGP and Moto2 rider Hafizh Syahrin is a star in Malaysia. Nicknamed “El Pescao” because of his confident performance on a wet track, the Malaysian rider is a Yamaha Sepang Racing mainstay alongside Michael van der Mark and Franco Morbidelli.
A national championship rider, Hafizh Syahrin has previous experience of endurance racing, having raced the 2017 Suzuka 8 Hours with Team Kagayama.
Michael van der Mark, the 2014 Supersport world champion and a front-runner in the Superbike world championship, also has solid endurance racing credentials as a four-time winner of the Suzuka 8 Hours between 2013 and 2018.
Franco Morbidelli was the fastest of Yamaha Sepang Racing’s three-rider line-up yesterday in qualifying and the Top10 Trial. He won the 2017 Moto2 world championship and now competes in MotoGP with the Petronas Yamaha SRT team managed by Razlan Razali, the CEO of the Sepang International Circuit. So it made perfect sense for the ltalian-Brazilian rider to join the Malaysian team aiming to win the maiden edition of the 8 Hours of Sepang.
Franco Morbidelli is the only one of the three to have no former FIM EWC experience. Despite his outstanding performance in qualifying – a 2:03.907 lap in the saddle of Yamaha Sepang Racing’s R1 – he is firmly focused on the team’s goal and well aware they are up against stiff competition. “We succeeded in creating a gap to Honda FCC TSR in the practice sessions,” says Morbidelli, “but they’re a team with experience of this kind of race, so we can’t afford to make any mistakes at these 8 hours.”