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MotoGP marks 20 years in Sepang
Published on: Saturday, April 20, 2019
By: Bernama

Kuala Lumpur: Sepang International Circuit (SIC) has become the catalyst of motorsports development in Malaysia along with Motorcycle Grand Prix (MotoGP) race, which marked its 20 years in Sepang Thursday, which generates a new found interest amongst Malaysians for motorsports.

“Naturally, the success of having our own full-fledged MotoGP team is phenomenal and I am very proud and honoured to be part of this history.

“But, sincerely, I do not see this as the climax yet for Malaysia’s growth in motorsports. Greater things will come in future especially in motorcycling for Malaysia. As far as MotoGP is concerned, the future is shining brightly for Malaysia,” said SIC chief executive officer Datuk Razlan Razali, who is also the Team Principal of Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team.

Razlan in a statement said that there were historic moments created by Malaysian riders in MotoGP when Khairul Idham Pawi aka SuperKIP won the Argentinian and German Grand Prix in Moto3, Zulfahmi Khairuddin took second place in Sepang and almost won in 2012, as well as Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah on the podium in Moto2 and became first Malaysian in history to race in MotoGP class.

“There’ll be more and greater achievements in the future if we continue to work hard building on the success and the growing interest of MotoGP in Malaysia,” he added.

Razlan also acknowledged that Zulfahmi was the game changer in the Malaysian MotoGP history when SIC took a bolder step to put him on a full season in the 125cc class in board an Aprilia under the banner of Air Asia-Sepang International Circuit.

“He was not the top Malaysian rider then, but he provided the biggest motosports story then as more Malaysians followed his trail into world championship racing and Malaysia now proudly has its own MotoGP team and Hafizh Syahrin racing in MotoGP class, which is truely awesome,” he said.

He said that as Sepang celebrates 20 years in MotoGP, it was perhaps coincidental that Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team owned the number 20 as competition number in the premier MotoGP class with 19-year-old rookie Fabio Quartararo.

“Hopefully, the 2019 season will indeed be special for Malaysia which will host the Shell Malaysia MotoGP from Nov 1 to 3,” he said.

Since 1991, the World Motorcycle Grand Prix or the MotoGP as it is known now, was held at the Batu Tiga Shah Alam Circuit and the Johor Circuit in Pasir Gudang.

After the inauguration of the SIC, the world championship found a new home that saw exponential growth in popularity in Malaysia, especially after the introduction of a history-changing national Wildcard Programme by SIC in 2009.

The maiden MotoGP at SIC was the season opener for 1999, and it kicked off on April 17 with the free practice sessions for all the three competing categories like 125cc, 250cc and 500cc.

Kenny Roberts Jr of Suzuki Grand Prix Team was crowned as the first winner of the 500cc class in April 1999.

The 250cc class was won by Italian Loris Capirossi while Japanese rider, Masao Azuma took the title in the 125cc race. – Bernama 

 



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