Zulfahmi Khairuddin (left) talking to American Superbike champion Josh Herrin (centre) and former 125GP title contender Johann Zarco of France after the Caterham Moto2 team launch at Publika.
KUALA LUMPUR: It has been a cause of concern for motorcycle rider Zulfahmi Khairuddin for the past six months but the “screws” are finally off.
Zulfahmi flew back from his training base in Spain last weekend to remove two titanium screws that have remained in his right wrist and hand since he crashed in the Grand Prix of Aragon last October.
The injury, which also aggravated his back, subsequently caused Zulfahmi to withdraw on race day at the Malaysian Grand Prix that same month.
Last year was definitely a year to forget for Zulfahmi after a promising Moto3 debut in April. He was 12th overall last season and picked up 58 points.
The removal of the screws comes just in time as he welcomes some changes in his career.
Zulfahmi, who has been riding KTM machines since 2011 under the Ajo Motorsport team, will switch to the Honda this year.
He will ride with Italian-based team Ongetta in Moto3 and will get full factory support from the team who ran FTR-Honda machines last season with Frenchman Alexis Masbou, Spain’s Isaac Vinales and Italy’s Matteo Ferrari.
“I went for an operation to remove the two long titanium screws that were inserted when I injured my wrist.
“I could have done it a week earlier but I had to wait for the screwdriver to arrive from Spain, where the surgery was done.
“I don’t feel any pain in my hands now when I grip hard. Previously, it was bothering me a bit when I used a lot of pressure to grip.
“The stiches will be off in two days and I am looking forward to getting on the bike after that,” said Zulfahmi, who returns to Spain on Thursday to get ready for the Moto3 testing next week.
The 22-year-old said the learning process of riding a different bike with a new team will be good motivation for him.
“It’s like a whiff of fresh air after a while of being in the same surroundings. You would want to make the best of it at a new place.
“Although I will be with a new team, I won’t exactly be starting from scratch as my experience after years in the world championship (from 2010) will be a big help.
“I’m still in the process of understanding the new bike and the more I ride it, the more I get to know how it works,” added the AirAsia-sponsored rider at the launch of the new Caterham Moto2 team.
The newest outfit in Moto2 revealed their 2014 World Championship colours – including title sponsorship from AirAsia, which is owned by Malaysian entrepreneur Tan Sri Tony Fernandes.
The team will be officially called “AirAsia Caterham Moto Racing Team” with American Superbike champion Josh Herrin and former 125GP title contender Johann Zarco of France as their riders for their maiden season.
The team have signed a chassis partnership with Suter and have lofty aims of challenging for the Moto2 championship.
“The two-wheeled motorsport is a new venture for Caterham Group and one that we believe will be a long-term project. It is an exciting time for us and I would like to thank AirAsia for the opportunity.
“It is great to see their development and commitment to the sport from initially supporting an event to their backing of Malaysian rider Zulfahmi.
“The team is in high spirits and we hope to show our gratitude to AirAsia throughout the year by achieving good results,” said team principal Mia Sharizman.
Caterham will make their track debut in red-and-white during the final pre-season test at Jerez from March 11-13.