Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Zulfahmi Khairuddin & Hafizh : Duo show it can be done

A RECORD second highest attendance for any race weekend in the Sepang Circuit's history for the 22nd edition of the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix is proof that development of the sport does mean good business.

It was a hands down victory for development as the 125,000 crowd spread over the weekend mainly needed just two reasons to be there -- local products Mohd Zulfahmi Khairuddin and Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah.

Satisfaction in the local duo's historic performances seemed mutual among Sunday's 77,000 race day crowd, a record in it's own in Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix history.
As there was not one complaint about the premier MotoGP class race being cut short by seven laps due to heavy rain.

In fact, drenched fans were seen dancing in celebration of what were by far the most exciting performances by Malaysians in any world championship in motorsport.

AirAsia-SIC-Ajo Moto3 rider Zulfahmi chose to celebrate his 21st birthday, which fell on Saturday, in the best possible manner -- the first ever pole position by a Malaysian in any world championship, followed up by a first ever podium finish.

Heavy rain which fell right after the Moto3 race was no match for the pandemonium in the stands as the crowd watched Zulfahmi rise on the podium.

Wet race specialist Hafizh, 18, was a no-hoper from 27th on the grid until he discovered it was raining and inspired by his compatriot's performance.

The Petronas Raceline Malaysia rider produced arguably the sensation of the Moto2 season when he blasted off the grid and found himself in the lead after nine laps.

The decibel level all around the Sepang Circuit was something words could never describe as the crowd roared like never before.

Though tyre degradation forced Hafizh to hold back and settle for fourth, the highest ever finish by a Malaysian wild card entry, the celebrations were as if he'd won.

The two local born-and-bred heroes sent out the message that had been written many times before, but not understood well enough, while the crowd what they want are local heroes to support.

There's no marketing strategy that could ever match the draw of fans having their own heroes to cheer and celebrate.

It is now a question not about Zulfahmi and Hafizh, who have their paths set by their teams and sponsor, but about the rest of the talents available.
There are clashes of interests among the stakeholders who once, back in 2009, teamed up to launch Zulfahmi's fairy tale as part of the Malaysian MotoGP Wildcard Programme, but have now gone their separate ways.
But the split has worked as well with Hafizh being proof, remaining well on course for a full season in the world championship by 2014.
Whichever way they go, all should realise that it is no longer sufficient to remain in the comfort zone of the well developed local series, in the SIC's case continuously fine-tuning the Malaysian Super Series to figure out a platform that will launch riders towards the world championship.

Malaysian Cub Prix Championship organiser Two Wheels Motor Racing (TWMR) Sdn Berhad should also realise it is time to intensify efforts to launch not one or two, but as many riders who have the credentials and potential towards the world championships.

Yes, there have been efforts, but by having to satisfy too many quarters, the path has only been able to be explored by a handful of riders, with the championship nearing its 40th anniversary.

Again the call for unity in Malaysian motorsports is, at best in vain, but the situation remains manageable with the split parties involved not going about attacking each other, yet.

Probably corporate support towards such projects which have two proven results could help as well, but it could be made much easier with everyone involved comfortable with each other and focused on the same goals.

Because seriously, they need to hit while the iron is hot as their own future depends on motorcycling.

*Taken from NST Online.

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