LE MANS: A broken clutch lever robbed Malaysian teenager Hafizh Syahrin of a chance to fight for World Championship points at the France Grand Prix in Le Mans yesterday.
It was hard luck for Hafizh, the first Malaysian to enter as a wild card on foreign soil, as he was dragged into a first lap incident involving four other riders at the tail-end of the grid for the 26-lap race.
Hafizh went out of the racing line, slipping into the gravel as a result but managed to recover and join the race again. But a snapped clutch lever meant he was unable to realise his full potential on the 2013 Kalex bike.
Hafizh still managed a creditable 22nd placing out of the field of 35 riders but was left ruing what he felt should have been a points finish.
“I was confident at first. The weather was also to my liking and there was a good chance of raining anytime. But I fell at the fourth turn on the first lap.
“It was a small mistake and someone hit my rear tyre and I could not fight with the others as a result. I am disappointed as my target for this race was to finish in the points (top 15) but there was no such luck for me as I could not grip the clutch properly after that.”
“I was lapped and could only follow behind. I felt I could have fought for the top 10. “Anyway, I am still happy to finish the race. I did not disappoint my team and sponsors who gave me this opportunity. I will look forward to bouncing back in the second round of the Spanish CEV Buckler Championship in Aragon next week,” said the Petronas Raceline Malaysia rider, who was unlucky to crash in the first round of the Spanish championship last month after dominating through the weekend.
British rider Scott Redding took the chequered flag in the incident-littered race to lead the world championship standings on 76 points.
Luck also did not favour another Malaysian rider Zulfahmi Khairuddin as he failed to finish. The Banting-born rider had battled his way to seventh from a starting grid position of 15th with four laps to go but all it took was just one slip and the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider was forced to leave Le Mans empty handed.
Zulfahmi high-sided his bike and Finnish rider Niklas Ajo, who was trailing behind, could not avoid the Malaysian as a result.
Zulfahmi thus dropped from fifth to sixth after four rounds of the championship on 38 points. His team-mate Luis Salom won third place to move to second overall on 77 points. Fellow Spaniard Maverick Vinales bagged his second straight victory of the year to head the championship standings on 90 points.