SILVERSTONE: Italian Franco Morbidelli is unfazed by the close rivalry between him and Malaysian rider Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah in the MotoGP this year.
The 2017 Moto2 world champion and Hafizh are currently neck-and-neck for the MotoGP Rookie of the Year award, with Hafizh leading on 24 points while Morbidelli is only two championship points behind him.
Hafizh of Monster Yamaha Tech 3 and Morbidelli of Marc VDS are sitting at 16th and 17th respectively in the overall standings.
Morbidelli and Frenchman Fabio Quartararo were recently announced as the new riders for the PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team – Malaysia’s first fully-fledged outfit in the premier class starting next year.
The 23-year-old is taking the close race for the Rookie of the Year title with Hafizh professionally.
“I’ll be joining a Malaysian team next year and Hafizh is a Malaysian, it does not matter, I have to do my job at the maximum level to beat all other riders,” said Morbidelli.
“It will not affect me, I’m always focused on giving my best, it doesn’t matter who the opponents are.”
Morbidelli, however, is excited about joining PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team next year.
The Italian, who is the protege of seven-time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi, has the advantage of using the same machinery as Rossi for next year.
The team announced on Thursday that Morbidelli and Quartararo will be contesting on board the Yamaha YZR-M1 machines.
“I see Valentino everyday and driving and riding the same bike as him could be an advantage for me. Definitely, it will be of help.
“I can ask him many tips about the bike and many other things.”
Now that Morbidelli’s future is secured for next year, he has set his sights on finishing in a better position in the overall standings by doing well at the ongoing British Grand Prix at the Silverstone Circuit.
“It’s great to have the next season arranged, so that I can continue to be focused on this year. I still need to commit to being the best rider I can be this season,” he said.
“I have to continue learning from every situation I face, to be ready and well prepared for next year.”