Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah in a file photo. He was promoted to 15th to open the season with a point in hand after the disqualification of second-placed Takaaki Nakagami of Japan.
PETALING JAYA: Despite struggling with the bike during practice and qualifying, Malaysian Moto2 rider Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah managed to score a point at the Qatar Grand Prix.
The 19-year-old started from 30th on the grid but rocketed to finish 16th at the Losail International Circuit on Sunday. The disqualification of second-placed Takaaki Nakagami of Japan meant Hafizh was promoted to 15th to earn a point from the race.
Nakagami, who finished behind winner Esteve Rabat, was disqualified on technical grounds for using non-regulation air filter. Spaniard Rabat finished the 20-lap race in 40:20.963.
Hafizh, meanwhile, crossed the line in 41:01.658. The Petronas Raceline Malaysia rider battled intensely with Luis Salom of Spain for the 15th spot during the race.
“I wanted to earn my first championship point in Qatar but lost out to Salom at the last turn. But when I was told that Nakagami had been disqualified, I was really happy to get the point,” said Hafizh.
Reflecting on the race, he said that he had a smooth start and did not rush into things.
“I knew that rushing into the first turn with a full fuel load could turn into a disaster, which happened to many other riders who crashed. Only when the load is lighter did I decide to push hard,” said Hafizh.
Meanwhile, compatriot Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman finished in 18th spot after starting from 28th on the grid.
In the Moto3 championship, Zulfahmi Khairuddin struggled with his Honda bike to finish in 18th place. He clocked 38:42.496. World championship debutant Amirul Hafiq Azmi crashed out in the first lap and failed to finish the race.
Jack Miller of Australia won the Moto3 race in 38:05.810 astride a KTM bike.