A NEW BIKE, A NEW BEGINNING FOR FAHMI IN MOTO3
If pre-season tests are an indication, Malaysia’s riding sensation, Muhammad Zulfahmi Khairuddin will not be short of confidence for the upcoming season after recording impressive top 10 best lap times during the recent Moto3 test results in Jerez and Valencia last month.
The AirAsia-SIC-Ajo rider displayed his maturity and composure during the two tests as he consistently posted five top 10 positions in six sessions, only missing out on day two in Jerez after being involved in a crash.
Fahmi, 20, bounced back on the final day to record a best lap time of 1 minute 48.4 seconds, following his impressive performance on day one which saw him clock a time of 1’49.5 during the three day tests on the 16th to 18th February.
The first three sessions in Valencia from the 8th to 10th March also saw him placed in the top 10, setting a best lap time of 1’42.4, 1’43.0 and ending with a 1’42.0.
With many predicting that Fahmi will face an uphill struggle due to the change from two-stroke to four-stroke, his lap times has given him a timely boost for the upcoming season.
“There were people who doubted my abilities to ride the four-stroke machine, but these tests have given me the opportunity to prove to everyone that I can handle the new challenges for the upcoming season.
“Although my lap times have been impressive so far, that doesn’t mean that I can take my foot off the pedal. There’s still a long way to go before the season begins and I have to keep working hard to maintain my performance,” said Fahmi.
Based on the encouraging tests on his new bike, Fahmi is aiming for an ambitious top 10 position by the end of the season while he familiarizes himself with his new machine, courtesy of Austrian manufacturers, KTM.
“It is a dream come true for me to finally get my hands on a full factory bike. It is an honour for me to be one of five riders to be given an opportunity to be on the saddle of a KTM.
“I was able to improve my time lap after lap and day after day. I believe that we will have a good season. My target is to be regularly in top ten,” said Fahmi.
Team principal, Aki Ajo took pride in Fahmi’s outstanding improvement since the young lad first came under his wing in 2011.
“Fahmi has shown great improvement since he first came to us last year. You can see it in his latest test results where he was consistently placed in the top 10 for all the sessions.
“I am proud of our involvement in Fahmi’s career and delighted to have played a part in providing a full factory KTM bike for him this season. Our expectations on him have risen day by day and we hope he will continue to make Ajo Motorsports proud this season,” added Ajo.
Ending last season in 18th place with 30 points in the now defunct 125cc category has made Fahmi more confident in making the step up to the four stroke engine from the two stroke category he has been handling for the past 2 years.
The Banting born lad, who achieved his best ever result in the Malaysian MotoGP last October, finishing in 7th; ending his points drought in his home grand prix, realises the challenge he will be facing as he continues his learning curve in the motorcycling world championships.
“Even though I failed to finish in the top 15, I am still satisfied with my overall results in 18th position.
“This year, I will be facing a different set of challenges. The four stroke engine has a different character compared to the two stroke engine.
“Riding the 250cc bike is a gradual learning curve for me. But for me, the two stroke engine is harder to ride as the setup is harder compared to the four stroke.
“There’s not much setup for the four stroke machine as it is all done by the factory,” added Fahmi during the launch of his third season in the MotoGP at Ecoba, Damansara Perdana.
Sepang International Circuit Chief Executive, Datuk Razlan Razali was obviously delighted with Fahmi’s encouraging test results but preached caution as it was still a long way to go before the season starts on 8th April in Qatar.
“We should not be too over confident of the test results, the real test for Fahmi in when the season starts in April.
“No doubt that Fahmi has performed admirably during the tests, but it’s still a long way to go and I hope that Fahmi will keep focusing and pushing himself towards the goals we have set for him this season,” added Razlan.
Razlan also thanked co-sponsor AirAsia for without their commitment and assistance, none of this would be possible.
“We want to express our gratitude to co-sponsor AirAsia for being with us from day one and providing SIC with the assistance in realizing this dream. Both SIC and AirAsia believe that Fahmi has what it takes to be a potential title contender.
“This year, we have provided Fahmi with one of the best machines on the grid in Moto3. Thus in 2012, only skills and experience separates Fahmi from the rest of the field.
“For a young Malaysian talent to succeed in the international sports arena, we must strive to provide him with the best equipment and team to compete at the highest possible level.
“We believe this is the year for Fahmi to really show what he is made of. It is now up to him to deliver the goods and make himself, his family and all Malaysians proud.
AirAsia Group Chief Executive Officer, Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said, “Fahmi has definitely developed and improved tremendously since we started with him in 2009. From a shy teen, Fahmi is now a more confident and matured young man who is focused in delivering great results in the MotoGP.
Although the Qatar race will only be held in April; his test outcomes are definitely a clear indicator that he is able to compete with the best in his class.”
“We will continue in supporting his development as well as the development of motorsports in the country as well as the region. We wish him all the best for the 2012 season and hopes that he will make Malaysia proud.”
Razlan reserved special thanks to the Ministry of Youth and Sports who have come on board to sponsor Fahmi for the duration of 3 years, a timely boost for his upcoming venture in Moto3.
“I wish to express my sincerest gratitude to the Ministry of Youth and Sports (KBS) for sponsoring his monthly expenses from now until 2014. KBS have agreed to sponsor Fahmi for the duration of 3 years during his training stint in Barcelona.
“This is a testament of Fahmi’s appeal as a promising Malaysian talent and as a role model for youths in our country in hopes that his achievements will encourage them to strive for excellence in the field of sports,” added Razlan.
Razlan also paid tribute to Fahmi’s personal sponsors for continuing to support his endeavour in the upcoming Moto3 season.
“We must also not forget Fahmi’s personal sponsors for supporting Fahmi in 2012. They have graciously provided Fahmi with the best safety equipment, equipping him with riding leathers, boots and gloves.
“Dainese are a name synonymous with providing the best protection for riders, with 7 time premier class champion, Valentino Rossi, Nicky Hayden and MotoGP debutant, Stefan Bradl, last year’s 125 cc champion, among the big names to have put their trust in Dainese.
“We thank Dainese and their South East Asian distributor, JR Racing for sponsoring Fahmi’s riding equipment. Fahmi’s first highside crash in Jerez during the recent test is a testament of how good the brand is and what it stands for.
“We would also like to extend our gratitude to Shoei, for providing the best headgear protection for the last two years, KTM Malaysia and Planet Cycle for providing Fahmi with the means to train with the Supermotard during the off season and now as an ambassador for KTM in Malaysia.
“Also to Faito, a local motorcycle performance parts and accessories provider based in Penang, who have come on board to sponsor Fahmi starting from last year’s Malaysian MotoGP. Faito has agreed to continue Fahmi for a full season this year and we hope they will continue their partnership for many years to come.
“Not to forget eyewear, Oakley who have also added their name on the list of Fahmi’s personal sponsors this year. Indeed it is an honour for Fahmi to have so many personal sponsors come on board for the new season in only his third full season in the MotoGP,” added Razlan.
SIC would also like to welcome on board a new partner, mobile engagement specialists scramboo, who will run Fahmi’s new mobile services (http://m.zulfahmi.info).
This interactive platform will enable fans to keep in touch with Fahmi’s latest developments as he traverses the globe, join in the discussions on their favourite social channels, and even challenge Fahmi in a series of mobile games that will be unlocked as the race season progresses.
Fans will also have the opportunity to experience Fahmi in a whole new dimension as scramboo, together with Aurasma, the world’s leading augmented reality platform, bring photos of Fahmi to life in the palm of your hand.
The 18 round MotoGP calendar starts on 8th April at Losail, Qatar with the Malaysian MotoGP scheduled on 23rd October at Sepang Circuit two races before the finale at Valencia, Spain at November.