When the Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team (SRT) was named as Malaysia’s first-ever team to participate in world motorcycle premier class, no one could have envisaged the team’s rapid progress. Sepang International Circuit chief executive officer Datuk Razlan Razali, who made the announcement a year ago during the British Grand Prix, is certainly surprised as SRT are going great guns in the MotoGP category. Datuk Razlan gives his take on his hopes and aspirations for the team.
Q: Did you expect to see the amazing progress of the team in the first year?A: There is no way we expected to be in this fantastic position after only 12 rounds of the 2019 season. We were hoping for Franco (Morbidelli) to deliver top six performances and for Fabio (Quartararo) to go for the Rookie of the Year award. We didn’t expect both of them to do what they’re doing and we’re extremely happy and satisfied with them. To be able to deliver such strong performances for our title sponsor is key factor. We have achieved better than the targets we set out to do at the start of the year.
Q: What has been the biggest surprise of the move to MotoGP?A: Without a doubt the biggest surprise has come from Fabio. When we announced him as our second rider, a lot of people told us we made the wrong choice but now everyone agrees we made the right decision!
He’s delivered the biggest surprise of the year, with a series of podiums, pole positions, top fives and top tens. He has been fabulous and he is truly talented. Having pole position and second place at only the first European round in Jerez, Spain earlier this year was exceptional.
Q: What gives you the most pride in the past 12 months?A: In general for the riders to perform, they need support from the team and my proudest moments are seeing how the team have gelled as a whole across all three categories.
The Moto3 team have been around since 2015 and the Moto2 team is a year-old, and it’s been a challenge for them with a lot of different riders on the bikes over the past two years.
So for them to click as a team, to support our riders and to get along with everyone as the team expand to 48 people is impressive. There’s such a good ambiance and chemistry. Of course there’s always room to improve and nothing is ever 100% perfect but we can be proud of what we’ve done.
I also couldn’t be more proud as a Malaysian to finally have our own Malaysian MotoGP team. We can tell fans and media from across the globe that we’re Malaysian and we can act as our country’s ambassadors.
Q: How special will the Malaysian Grand Prix be this year?A: The Malaysian Grand Prix is our home race and it will be the first time our MotoGP team will compete at Sepang. We expect the riders to do well in MotoGP and Moto3. If Khairul Idham Pawi is back in the saddle for the Moto2 class, he should do well too. We are already anticipating a bumper crowd with 200,000 spectators over three days and 115,000 on race day. It’ll be a huge event for us and we can’t wait for the event to come by.Q: When can we expect a confirmation on the riders for the team next year?A: For MotoGP, we will continue with Franco and Fabio. This should be an amazing combination for the team’s second season. For Moto2, we have amble time to confirm the riders while for Moto3 will let John (McPhee) know his continued services with the team at his home race in Britain.