Sunday, October 21, 2012

Zulfahmi Khairuddin: Our very own pole man!

No Malaysian has done it before. And the country has to wait for Mohd Zulfahmi Khairuddin to turn 21 years old yesterday for the moment.

Riding for the AirAsia-SIC-Ajo team, he won pole position in the Moto3 category of the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix at the Sepang Circuit.

Despite difficult track conditions, the Banting-born Zulfahmi sizzled on his KTM bike and set a lap record of two minutes 13.885 seconds.

Three years ago, nobody could have imagined the Malaysian in pole position in a FIM World Motorcycle Championship race but a fired-up Zulfahmi did just that.

Zulfahmi, who lives just 10-minutes away from the circuit, stunned the favourites to send an ecstatic home crowd into wild raptures.

It was the first ever pole position by a Malaysian in any world championship in motorsport
Zulfahmi's day started with some early morning grumpiness brought about by a front suspension that was acting up in the third practice session.

But that was soon put aside as his team made the necessary adjustments in time for the qualifying session, which came just after a drizzle that left the track a bit of wet, making it tricky.

"It was an issue with the front suspension but we knew exactly what was causing it, so the team worked really hard to fix it in time for qualifying, and soon the bike was running really well," said Zulfahmi, who is in his third season in the world championship.

Qualifying, which started at 1pm, was done under wet and dry conditions, but a calm Zulfahmi chose his moments to have a go at fast laps in three significant spells. The final stint with 15 minutes to go, saw the Malaysian riding like a man possessed.

On his second qualifying stint, Zulfahmi first claimed the top spot with a time of 2:14.357s, which he later lost to Germany's Jonas Folger. But a fired-up Zulfahmi then went out with guns blazing it, posting a succession of fastest laps that put him beyond the reach of his rivals, capping it off with the lap record on his penultimate lap.

"As we had seen yesterday, the track conditions have been quite difficult with bumps everywhere. Then early in the qualifying session, it was also tricky as the track was a mixture of wet and dry sections, so it was hard to really post a good time then," said Zulfahmi.

"Around the middle of the session, we were running under fully dry conditions, so this was when I knew we could start posting good times. I went out and the bike felt really good and I was able to post some really good times.

"We also limited tyre use this week and saved them for qualifying, so each time I pitted, I knew we had a new set of tyres, so that helped a lot as well," said Zulfahmi.

"It feels really good to be on pole position, thanks to the hard work put in by the team. I'm especially thankful to all the people who came. To be able to do this in front of my home crowd and so many of my fans, is just a great feeling.

"Now it is about keeping the good job together and bringing it to the end of the race tomorrow."

*Taken from NST Online
*For Mohd Zulfahmi Khairuddin biodata, click here.

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