Zulfahmi ready to be ‘backbone’ of Damok’s MotoGP challenge

Zulfahmi Khairuddin

KUALA LUMPUR – SIC Racing team manager Zulfahmi Khairuddin is ready to be the “backbone” of rider Syarifuddin Azman should the youngster manage to get a slot in the World Motorcycle Grand Prix (MotoGP) next year.

The former Moto2 rider said it would not be easy for anyone to ride at that (MotoGP) level and, as such, he (Syarifuddin) would need strong support and encouragement to overcome all the challenges and pressures he is likely to face in MotoGP.

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“The pressure in MotoGP is extremely high. Sometimes, riders will feel pressured… who will they turn to if they do not have any support? Teams like the Petronas Sepang Racing Team (SRT) have pressure, their riders must be at the front of the grid, must improve themselves to be faster or improve their positions in the standings after every race.

“Whether Syarifuddin is ready or not, he has won the FIM CEV. That means he is about halfway ready because the motorcycle’s the same, the circuit is also almost the same,” he said at a virtual media conference today.

Previously, SRT team principal Datuk Razlan Razali said he was prepared to give an opportunity to Syarifuddin, who is known as Damok, to join the Petronas SRT team next season if he continued to excel.

His confidence stems from watching Damok emerge champion in the FIM CEV Repsol 2021 Moto3 Race 1 at the Catalunya Circuit in Spain last Sunday.

Zulfahmi stressed that to achieve his target of earning a spot in MotoGP, Damok would need to continue to stay focused and enhance his performance in the remaining FIM CEV races this season.

As for Adam Norrodin, who is competing in Moto2 of the FIM CEV, Zulfahmi said that while he was happy with the rider’s performance and confidence, it was disappointing that he crashed in Race 1 last weekend, thus affecting his championship points standings.

Meanwhile, Zulfahmi said he was also pleased with the performance of Muhammad Hakim Danish Ramli in the youngster’s maiden outing at the recent European Talent Cup (ETC), which saw him finish 19th out of 64 riders.

Zulfahmi also explained that for next season, he plans to take Sharul Ezwan Mohd Sharil out from the ETC to compete in Moto 3 of the FIM CEV while retaining Hakim Danish in the ETC.

He, however, admitted that it would all depend on the budget to be allocated by the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) for the talent development programme.