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Wednesday October 15, 2008

Motor Racing: SIC aim to have local rider for Malaysian Grand Prix

SEPANG: It is embarassing for Malaysia to still be talking about Shahrol Yuzy even though he last rode in the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix here six years ago.

And as the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) announced yesterday ahead of this weekend’s GP that they had signed the rights to be hosts of a round of the World Championships for two years more, their new chief executive officer, Ahmad Razlan Ahmad Razali, believed that it was long overdue for Malaysia to be represented again.

Being cautious: Razlan inspecting the track yesterday ahead of the official inspection tomorrow.

A signing ceremony on the extension of the contract with MotoGP race promoters Dorna will be held on Saturday and Razlan hoped that the relevant private sector would come together and help develop Malaysian riders to compete on the world stage.

“We have the riders but there is no support for them. Getting a Malaysian rider into the World Championships is much cheaper and easier than getting into F1,” he said.

“We have decided to renew the rights (to be hosts) early and we hope to have a Malaysian rider as a wildcard entry, at least, for the 125cc next year.

“It will be a good effort if he can qualify and finish the race. On our part, we are happy to provide support to him. If there are riders taking up this challenge, we are happy to give them track time.”

Shahrol competed as a full-fledged 250cc rider under the Petronas Sprinta TVK banner in the World GP circuit for two seasons but there has been no Malaysian rider since 2002.

That says a lot for the apathy shown by the private sector, especially when Thailand and Indonesia, who are not even hosts, have riders in the championships. Indonesian Doni Tata Pradita and Thai Ratthapark Wilairot are on the verge of completing a full season in the 250cc category.

Razlan also called for everyone to help support the local motorsports scene, especially the Malaysian Super Series.

“We want to develop further the Malaysian Super Series in unearthing new local talent. We will also continue to support the other bike series, which compete regularly in Sepang (Malaysian Cub Prix and the Asian Grand Prix),” said the 36-year-old motorsports enthusiast, who owns Pineapple Motorsports and the MSportsbike Racing Team.

Razlan will report directly to the SIC chairman, Datuk Mokhzani Mahathir. The general manager’s position has been left vacant. Datuk Azmi Murad, who held the post, has returned to Malaysia Airport Holdings Bhd in his capacity as senior operations general manager.

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