Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah during the French MotoGP practice session on May 17, 2014. He posted a time of 1:39.063 to finish 19th.
LE MANS: Aspiring rider Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah has become the first Malaysian to win a podium finish in Moto2 – albeit by default.
Hafizh was declared the third place winner of the 2012 Malaysian MotoGP following a doping offence by second-placed Anthony West of Australia.
Although the announcement was made in November last year, Hafizh only officially received the trophy at a simple ceremony during the Spain GP in Jerez two weeks ago.
But the 20-year-old Hafizh, who is currently competing in the Moto2 Class in the French Motorcycle Grand Prix here has mixed feelings about it.
Although happy and motivated, he would rather have won it on merit than by default.
“Hopefully, I will be able to get a podium finish in convincing fashion in future – especially in front of my Malaysian fans. This year, finishing top 10 in a race would be great for a start,” he said.
West tested positive for Methylhexaneamine at the 2012 Moto2 French Grand Prix here.
In November last year after a year-long investigation and appeal, all of West’s results from May 20, 2012 to Oct 19, 2013 were declared null and void.
That decision saw England’s Gino Rea being promoted from third to second in Sepang while wild card Hafizh moved up from fourth to third and gained his first GP podium.
The winner of the race that year was Alex De Angelis of San Marino.
For now, the cool Hafizh is just focused on getting his act right at the French Grand Prix.
On Saturday, he performed better under the cool weather during the third practice session on his Kalex machine, posting a time of 1:39.063 to finish 19th.
“It was the best practice. We went much faster and in fact, it was a better time than last year. The setting of the bike was good and we are now quite confident with our choice of tyres,” said Hafizh.
“I will go into the qualifying race with more confidence. I hope to slice off one more second and try to be in the top pack from the starting grid.”
Ultimately, Hafizh hopes to score at least one point by finishing among the top 15 to make his Le Mans race memorable.
This season, he scored one point each in the Doha (Qatar) and Austin (United States) legs by finishing 15th, but emerged 20th in Termos Rio de Hondo (Argentina) and 21st in Jerez (Spain).