Amirul Hafiq Azmi in a file photo. He and his SIC Ajo team have been conducting private tests at Almeria, Spain, since Feb 5, ahead of the Valencia test.
PETALING JAYA: With the initial MotoGP pre-season test concluding at the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) last Thursday, it is now time for Moto2 and Moto3 contenders to start their engines.
Both Moto2 and Moto3 teams will take to the tracks at Valencia, Spain, from Tuesday ahead of the new season that will start with the Qatar Grand Prix on March 23.
Malaysia will have two riders in Moto2 – Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) and Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), with Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Ongetta AirAsia) and Amirul Hafiq Azmi (SIC Ajo) in Moto3.
While others have plenty of experience under their belt, Amirul will have a baptism of fire in the world championship this season. His previous experience with Moto3 racing was in the Spanish National Championships last year.
Realising the importance of starting the season early, the team have been conducting private tests at Almeria, Spain, since Feb 5, ahead of the Valencia test.
“After a few months of not riding Moto3 bikes, it felt a bit odd to me. We started early because I wanted to get the feel of the new bike and to work with the new team.
“On the first day of testing, it was all about getting to know the bike. I have to learn as quickly as possible before the new season starts,” said the 18-year-old.
Meanwhile, Zulfahmi flew to Spain last Thursday to prepare for the test with his new team. He is starting a new chapter on board Honda after leaving KTM.
SIC chief executive officer Datuk Razlan Razali said the test in Valencia is important for Zulfahmi as it will give a peek at the bike’s level of competitiveness for the season.
“During the private test right at the end of last season, Zulfahmi was not satisfied at all with the bike. It was way slower than the KTM he used to ride.
“But this time in Valencia, he will be riding a new bike. I hope he gets encouraging results from the test,” said Razlan.
The test in Valencia is the first of three for Moto2 and Moto3 riders. The second and third tests will be held at Jerez from Feb 18-20 and March 11-13.