Morbidelli gives SRT podium No. 3

Winner!: Italian rider Franco Morbidelli competing in the MotoGP race. — AP

PETALING JAYA: Italian rider Franco Morbidelli gave it his all to claim his first-ever MotoGP podium finish after coming in second at the Czech Republic Grand Prix in Brno, handing Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team their third straight podium in as many races.

It could have been an even sweeter ending but Morbidelli’s bike was caught out by a brilliant ride from rookie Brad Binder.

The South African made a dream start from seventh on the starting grid to enter the leading pack comprising Morbidelli and his French teammate Fabio Quartararo.

Binder eventually found his way to the front and did not falter as he eventually took the chequered flag, his first ever in the premier class and for KTM team as well.

Frenchman Johann Zarco, the pole-sitter, claimed third place for Ducati.

Quartararo, winner of the first two rounds of the season held at Jerez last month, fell out of contention as the race went on and eventually settled for seventh.

It had been speculated earlier that he had problems with his tyres.

Earlier, in the Moto2 world championship, a bad start cost Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah a chance to end a three-year podium drought.

Hafizh had high hopes of finishing on the podium after he qualified fourth on the grid, his best performance of the season so far.

However, the 26-year-old Malaysian from Aspar Racing did not have the best of starts and dropped outside the top five immediately after the first corner of the race.

Hafizh had to fight hard to keep his bike inside the chasing pack and eventually finished ninth in the 19-lap race in 39:26.801.

Despite missing out on a good chance to claim a fourth career podium, the consolation for Hafizh is that it was still his second top 10 finish of the season.

Hafizh did not finish the second round in Jerez two weeks ago after retiring due to tyre wear.

Hafizh last earned a podium at the final round of the 2017 season in Valencia where he finished third.

“I did not have a good start. The power distribution was not smooth and I found it hard to catch up after that.

“I tried to press hard but could not overtake as I was at risk of crashing if I pushed harder.

“I only tried to stay on the line. I will fight another day,” said Hafizh, who is 15th in the world championship standings on 10 points.

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