Malaysian wildcard rider Muhd Zaqhwan Zaidi (left) in action during qualifying for the Supersport class of the Superbike World Championships at the Sepang Circuit on Saturday. - BERNAMA
SEPANG: Malaysian wildcard Muhd Zaqhwan Zaidi made light work of a lack of riding time on the silver-coloured Honda CBR600RR machine to qualify in seventh place for the Supersport class of the FIM Superbike World Championships at the Sepang Circuit.
His impressive time of 2:09.552 earned him a starting position at the top of Row 3, putting him in a strong position to accomplish his mission of earning the first-ever Supersport world championship points for Malaysia.
Zaqhwan, only into his second day on the bike, was ninth in 2:09.900 in the third free practice session in the morning.
The current Petronas Malaysian Cub Prix championship leader was delighted with his efforts.
“Naturally, I’m very happy. It’s a very good result ... unexpected.
“This is a very competitive field and a very competitive world-class championship.
“Having this result has given us confidence to target higher for tomorrow’s race.
“We are hoping to finish in the top 10.”
Zaqhwan acknowledged that the start of the Sunday race will be crucial.
“Hopefully, I can get off to a good start and challenge the leading group. We’ll see how it goes.
“The priority for me is to collect world championship points. I only got to try the bike yesterday. I have very limited time to work on the bike.
“Despite the limited time, we’ve managed a commendable result in qualifying,” said the 19-year-old Zaqhwan.
The 45-minute qualifying session, run under scorching conditions, was topped by Frenchman Jules Cluzel, who clocked 2:08.331 on his MV Agusta F3 675 bike.
Britain’s Kev Coghlan was second fastest in 2:08.424 on his Yamaha YZF R6 machine while championship leader Michael van der Mark was third quickest in 2:08.961.