First taste of Moto2 power for Malaysian hopefuls

Published on September 8th, 2010

Moto2 wildcard hopefuls Mohd Zamri Baba and Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman got their first taste on the power of the Moriwaki MD600 mean machine as they joined Team Moriwaki Engineering in its testing at Sepang Circuit, which entered its second day today.

After a full day observing test rider Shogo Moriwaki taking the machine through the 5.543km racing track yesterday, Azlan and Zamri put on the racing gear today to test the bike under the watchful eyes of Ron Hogg of Two Wheels Motor Racing (TWMR).

As competitors in the Asian Road Racing Championship and Malaysian Super Series (MSS) in the 600cc Supersports Championship, both needed little time to accustom themselves to the demands and behavior of the Moto2 machine and were clearly enjoying themselves at the circuit.

“It’s a good experience for me … it’s very different from the (Yamaha) R6,” said Azlan, who competes at the ARRC and MSS on a Yamaha R6 for PETRONAS Yamaha Racing Team.

“The suspension is better, but clearly the bike is heavier than the R6. So, it demands more energy from the riders; making it more challenging. In terms of speed, it’s almost similar. But, definitely an enjoyable day today,” he said, adding that given more opportunity he would be able to master the bike.

Echoing Azlan’s views, Zamri expressed his delight in getting the opportunity to test out his skills on a real Moto2 bike.

“It’s a great experience and hopefully, we could call us again to do many more rounds of testing,” said Zamri, who like Azlan rides a Yamaha R6 in the two racing series.

Thanking the team for their support, Ron was happy with the test; but declined to comment further other than saying that the programme today was merely to provide the opportunity for the two Malaysian riders to personally experience riding the Moto2 bike.

Both Azlan and Zamri are currently the top contenders for this year’s MSS Supersports Championship, which is offering a unique prize of an automatic seat in the final list in the selection for Malaysian wildcard rider in the Moto2 race at the 2011 Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix.

It is clearly something that had strongly appealed to the Malaysian riders as the MSS Supersports category attracted the biggest participation this season of almost 40 riders. It had also been the most competitive as top riders from Thailand and Indonesia also took part as well.

Zamri Baba getting comfortable on the Moriwaki bike

A top brand in chassis development in motorcycling, Moriwaki provides the chassis for Spain’s Tony Elias, who is currently leading the newly-introduced Moto2 world championship, which is the second tier in the MotoGP world championship that included the 800cc MotoGP class and the GP 125cc class.

Regarded as the most exciting and thrilling competition, Moto2 competition runs on 600cc engine provided by Honda Racing Corporation and a single tyre-rule that only allow Dunlop tyres. For other components to the bike, teams are free in the selection and Moriwaki is one of the preferred chassis by most of the competing teams.

In an interview yesterday, the 27-year old Shogo said the tests in Sepang were proceeding smoothly and the bike was running well.

“So far, they’re running pretty well. I think that the Sepang track is a very good track, it’s challenging enough. The corners are pretty sharp but it’s the rider steady,” he said.

A test rider for the team, the youthful-looking 27-year old rider said he hoped to get the opportunity to compete next season in Moto2, which he described as the best and most exciting motorcycling championship.

“I had begun riding the Moto2 bikes since 2008. In my opinion, Moto2 is a great category to race in because all the riders are on equal grounds, on their Honda bikes. The race is all about the rider’s skills, and not the bike itself,” said Shogo, who started his racing career when he was only nine-years old and began to go into professional racing at the age of 17.

Team Moriwaki Engineering is a team to contend with in the Moto2 championship. With 40 years of experience, Moriwaki Engineering had established itself as one of the prominent racing establishment in the racing world.

With a massive lead in the championship, Elias could pen his name as the inaugural champion of Moto2 at Sepang Circuit with three rounds – the Australian, Portuguese and Valencia Grand Prix – to spare. The Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix is Round 15 of an 18-round world championship and would be held from October 8 to 10.

Representing Team Gresini Racing Moto2 and riding a similar Moriwaki MD2, Elias has so far garnered 211 world championship points and opening a massive gap of 83 points over closest rival and 2009 125cc world champion Julian Simon, who has 128 points. Switzerland’s Thoma Luthi – the 125cc world champion in 2005 – is third with 124 points.

Similarly in the MotoGP class, Elias’ compatriot Jorge Lorenzo of Fiat Yamaha Racing could also seal the title in Sepang if he continues to maintain his awesome form. Since the opening round in Qatar, Lorenzo had placed himself on the podium in all the rounds so far including winning seven of those races.

The 125cc class, which features Malaysian Mohd Zulfahmi Khairuddin of Team AirAsia Sepang International Circuit, looks set to go beyond Round 15 with two Spaniards – Marc Marquess and Nicolas Terol as the prime candidates for this year’s title.

Tickets for the 2010 Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix are priced as low as RM30 and they can be purchased via internet at www.sepangcircuit.com or calling the TICKET HOTLINE at 603-87782222.

words & pix: SIC

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