PETALING JAYA: Petronas Raceline Malaysia rider Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah got off to an encouraging start in the Moto2 opening practice of the inaugural Argentina Grand Prix MotoGP at the Termas de Rio Hondo Circuit.
Hafizh was 10th fastest in the combined Moto2 timesheets based on his performance in the second practice session, where he logged an impressive 1:45.488 around the 4.806km circuit, shaving 2.392 seconds off his first practice time of 1:49.280 on Friday.
He was only 0.422 of a second off pacesetter Johann Zarco (1:45.066).
“The first practice was challenging with a lot of dust on the track but there was no pressure to post fast laps as our priority was to pick up data because this is a new circuit,” said Hafizh.
“The engineers made changes to the front suspensions with the data gathered and it felt significantly better and easier to ride towards the end of the second practice. This was when I posted a strong lap time.
“I’m confident that the current set-up ... but there’s still room for improvement. The team engineers will do their best to boost the bike’s performance and, hopefully, I can continue to deliver competitive lap times.”
Malaysia’s other Moto2 rider Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman, however, suffered an early setback in his opening practice at the same track.
The Idemitsu Honda Team Asia rider was hoping to break into the top-20 after coming in 23rd fastest in the morning practice with 1:48.743. But a faulty engine saw him finish the second session in 1:47.003 instead.
While he did improve on his lap time, Azlan was still 1.937 seconds off Frenchman Zarco, Jonas Folger (1:45.093) and Dominic Aegeter (1:45.143).
Azlan’s team-mate and Moto2 title contender Takaaki Nakagami was fourth quickest overall in 1:45.254 while Maverick Vinales rounded up the top five with 1:45.331.