Mick Doohan: 'It's only a matter of time before we'll see a Malaysian in MotoGP.'
HAVING a Malaysian in the MotoGP may sound like a pipe dream right now, but MotoGP legend Mick Doohan believes that it's just a matter of time before it becomes a reality.
Currently, Moto2 has Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah and Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman, while Amirul Hafiq Azmi and Zulfahmi Khairuddin are riding in Moto3.
Doohan, who won five consecutive 500cc World Championships, says, “It's only a matter of time before we'll see a Malaysian in MotoGP and honestly I'm looking forward to that day. It's a good thing for Malaysia.
“Without a doubt, Malaysia is a fantastic country for sports like MotoGP and Formula 1. Malaysia has held motorsport events for more than 20 years.
“For any young Malaysian racer, it's a great thing. First of all, there is a Grand Prix staged in Malaysia and any rider who wants to make it, they've got companies like AirAsia and Petronas to support them," said Doohan
The 48-year-old Australian said that motor racing in Asia, especially Malaysia, has improved a lot in the last 20 years. In fact, he believes the level of riders in Asia has also improved.
Doohan was in Malaysia last month as part of his work as a Laureus Academy ambassador along with former French national skipper Marcel Desailly and former Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas. They were here to announce the nominees for the 2014 Laureus World Sports Awards, to be held at Kuala Lumpur's Istana Budaya on March 26.
Among those nominated is current MotoGP wonder kid Marc Marquez. Asked about Marquez, Doohan couldn't help but gush about the 21-year-old Spaniard's exploits.
“Marc is an amazing talent. He had a great season with Repsol Honda. He recently injured himself in a training accident. Hopefully he can recover and get on with the new season.
“He is young. Even if this year he is not strong enough, he can always do better in the coming years.
“He has done an amazing job. He was put into a tier-one team which is unusual these days. He justified the team's decision to put him in there and he brought the title home,” he said.
Although Marquez is the current circuit blazer and he has put his name in the record books last year as the youngest MotoGP winner, Doohan thinks it's still too early to say if he has the potential to join the legends.
“Freddie Spencer did that in 1983 and after 30 years, Marquez broke that record last year. That itself is enough to be remembered forever by MotoGP fans.
“To put him in a position where Valentino Rossi or Eddie Lawson are in, it's still too early but to be honest, there is no reason why he couldn't because he has won all the categories. I can confidently say that he can be one of the greats in the near future,” said Doohan.
Dishing out advice to youngsters interested in following in his and Marquez's footsteps, Doohan said they must not give up on their goals.
“You can't take a weekend off if you really want to achieve your goals. You need to remain focused and push yourself. If you keep pushing yourself to get those objectives, you will get there.
“Most of the athletes out there have the discipline and desire to succeed. Every time to you hit the milestone, you've got to push yourself to better heights,” said Doohan.