Motorsport

Published: Tuesday April 29, 2014 MYT 7:19:00 PM
Updated: Tuesday April 29, 2014 MYT 9:45:40 PM

Zaqhwan gets wildcard for Superbike race

Moto2 rider Mohd Zaqhwan Zaidi poses for a picture with Sepang International Circuit CEO Razlan Razali during the launching of the Malaysian leg of the Superbike World Championships in Damansara on Tuesday. - MOHD SHAHRIL ROSLI/ The Star

Moto2 rider Mohd Zaqhwan Zaidi poses for a picture with Sepang International Circuit CEO Razlan Razali during the launching of the Malaysian leg of the Superbike World Championships in Damansara on Tuesday. - MOHD SHAHRIL ROSLI/ The Star

SEPANG: Youngster Mohd Zaqhwan Zaidi has the chance to again shine on the big stage after earning a wildcard ride in the sixth leg of the FIM Superbike World Championships (WSBK) at the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) from June 6-8.

The selection of Zaqhwan, who rode as a wildcard in Moto2 at last year’s Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix, was announced by Sepang International Circuit chief executive officer Datuk Razlan Razali during the official launch  on Tuesday.

This is the first time Sepang will be hosting a WSBK event, which is making a return to Malaysia after a lapse of more than two decades. It was last held at the Shah Alam Batu Tiga circuit in 1991.

Malaysia will be the only Asian stop in the 14-leg championship.

Razlan is delighted to have a local rider flying the Malaysian flag at the event.

Zaqhwan was selected based on his track record in the Asia Road Racing Championships (ARRC) as well as his commitment in the Moto2 wildcard ride last year.

The 19-year-old will race in the 600cc Supersport class under Team Ten Kate Racing Products, who have had great success in the championship for over 20 years, including winning nine world titles.

“We are very excited to enter Zaqhwan in the WSBK at Sepang astride a Honda CBR600RR machine.

”I was in Assen (in Holland) last weekend for the third round of the event and we held lengthy discussions with one of the leading teams to provide technical support and a bike to a Malaysian rider,” Razlan said, adding that SIC are targeting 30,000 spectators on race day in what is the first of a three-year deal as the host country with Dorna.

Selangor-born Zaqhwan, who crashed out of last year’s Moto2 race at Sepang, thanked SIC for having faith in him.

”This is another milestone in my racing career ... to develop further as a rider. Hopefully, I can do better this time around and gain more experience,” said Zaqhwan, who will be under the support of former GP rider Shahrol Yuzy.

The Honda bike that Zahqwan will use will only arrive a week before the Malaysian event but he does not expect any big problem adapting to the machine as he also races in the same class in the ARRC.

Razlan also believes that the WSBK at SIC will be a success and become bigger and more prominent in Asia.

It joins Phillip Island (Australia), Aragon and Jerez (both in Spain), Imola and Misano (both in Italy) and Laguna Seca (United States) as the circuits to host the world’s two glamorous motorcycling events in the same year – MotoGP and WSBK.

Tyre manufacturer Pirelli is coming in as the main sponsor for the event and SIC chief executive officer Datuk Razlan Razali, who just returned from Assen where SIC penned a three-year agreement as hosts with rights holder Dorna, said that all the arrangements are proceeding smoothly.

“We are planning a line-up of exciting off-track activities, including a post-race concert called The Circus – where fans will be treated to a showcase of modern acrobatic acts and music by renowned DJs.

“I believe the event itself will be eagerly welcomed by the local biking community,” he said.

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