Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman in a file photo. The Moto2 rider will start from 28th on the grid at the Qatar Grand Prix.
PETALING JAYA: All four Malaysian riders in the Qatar Grand Prix will start from the back of the grid after enduring difficult qualifying sessions at the Losail International Circuit.
In the Moto2 championship, Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman qualified for 28th on the grid with a time of 2:02.355, 2.274 seconds behind poleman Esteve Rabat of Spain. Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah, meanwhile, secured the 30th spot in 2:02.473.
Both Azlan and Hafizh are still struggling to master their bikes. Strong winds, blowing sand onto the racetrack, compounded their problems.
“It is different from riding SuperSports bikes, where you can brake early and exit quite late ... in fact, it is quite the opposite. But, I will continue working to improve my riding,” said Azlan, who won the SuperSports title in the Petronas Asia Road Racing Championships (ARRC) last year.
Meanwhile, Hafizh rued his performance in qualifying, but vowed to improve on race day.
“It will be an uphill task to finish well considering my starting position. However, I will try my best to find some consistency during the race,” said the 19-year-old.
Strong winds at the track caused bigger problems for the lightweight Moto3 bikes as some lost their front end during corners.
However, it didn’t stop Alex Rins of Spain from taking the pole and improving the pole record set last year by compatriot Luis Salom. Rins grabbed the pole in 2:05.973.
Zulfahmi Khairuddin, meanwhile, crashed towards the end of the qualifying session and had to settle for 23rd spot, 2.723 seconds behind Rins.
“It was not the best session we had and a fall in the last five minutes meant I couldn’t continue getting a good time because the gear lever was damaged. I hope to be in a good position in the first five laps of the race for a better result,” said Zulfahmi.
Rookie Amirul Hafiq Azmi, meanwhile, concluded the qualifying session in 30th spot, 3.510 seconds behind Rins.