PETALING JAYA: Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah has been handed a lifeline to get back into the premier MotoGP world championships.
The Malaysian rider, who is now with Aspar Racing in Moto2, can join the Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team (SRT) if he manages a top five overall finish in the lower category this season. From there, he could work his way up to a seat in the top class.
The intermediate class is seen as the most competitive as all riders are fighting to secure the very limited slots in the MotoGP category. Most of the seats are already held by riders on contracts.
Team principal Datuk Razlan Razali said they are not short of candidates to consider for the team but he hopes to get a Malaysian rider to be good enough to make the grade.
“We are running a professional satellite team and there are KPIs to be met.
“If Hafizh can meet the top five target in Moto2 this year, we will give him a seat in our Moto2 team for next year.
“This year, the circumstances are different because of Covid-19 and we have more or less finalised the candidates for MotoGP next year.
“It will be hard to put him in MotoGP but at least he will get to stay in Moto2 next year and move back up to the premier class if he gets the results.
“One of the objectives in setting up our MotoGP team is also as a pathway to develop a top Malaysian rider,” said Razlan.
The 26-year-old has his work cut out for him as he needs to finish better than current Petronas SRT riders Xavi Vierge of Spain and Jake Dixon of England in the Moto2 category this year.
Hafizh dropped to the Moto2 category this year after two seasons in the premier class.
He started with an impressive sixth place finish in the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez earlier this month but struggled with tyre wear and did not finish the Andalucia GP at the same track on Sunday.
The world championship resumes with the Czech Republic Grand Prix in Brno from Aug 7-9.