POOR START SPOILS ZULFAHMI’S SEASON OPENER AT QATAR

Published on March 21st, 2011

Malaysian GP rider Muhammad Zulfahmi Khairuddin bettered his results at the MotoGP 125 World Championship season-opener in Qatar; but was not enough to earn his championship points after finishing 19th in a field of 30 world class riders yesterday.

Openly declaring that it was not the result looking for, Zulfahmi, who finished 21st last year in his world debut at Losail International Circuit, however, saw plenty of positives from the race, which he said was spoiled by a poor start and eventually finished 1 minute 5.192 seconds behind race winner and last year’s vice-champion, Nico Terol.

“I would have finished better without the poor start. I expected a bit more but this wasn´t that bad result for me from the first GP. We do great progress all the time,” Zulfahmi said in a statement issued by his team AirAsia Sepang International Circuit Ajo Motorsport Racing team.

Thanking the team members and declaring that he was making progress with the Barcelona-based team, Zulfahmi said that he looked forward to the second race of the season, which would be held in Jerez, Spain in two weeks’ time.

Starting from 17th on the grid, the 19-year old Zulfahmi finished the opening lap in 22nd place before fighting back and managing 19th at the end of the third lap in a race that saw Terol raising the competition bar with an awesome performance throughout the weekend; topping all sessions and finishing the race 7.710 seconds ahead of second-placed Sandro Cortese.

Zulfahmi’s team-mate at Ajo Motorsports, Spanish’s Effren Vazquez, who raced under the banner Avant-Air Asia-AJO, was fourth; finishing 9.514 seconds behind Terol. His team-mate, Frenchman Johann Zarco took sixth placing.

Commenting on the overall team performance, team manager Aki Ajo said: “Of course we always aim to win but all in all this was pretty good start for the season. Riders have potential for tough performances.

“At this stage I think that most important is that everything worked extremely well in here. One should remember that we have expanded our operation considerably,” added Ajo, who was manages Red Bull Ajo Motorsports, which had Jonas Folger and Danny Kent.

Vazquez had a clear second position for a long until he took the penultimate curve a bit too wide with his Derbi-bike. Sergio Gadea who races at the SuperMartxé VIP Paris Hilton team punished immediately Vazquez for his mistake and removed his fellow-countryman away from the podium with a 0.367 second difference.

“It´s a shame but already this race showed that I could ride and fight for the top positions also at this season,” commented Vazquez, who like Zulfahmi, saw plenty of positives from the opening race in Qatar.

“We worked well and hard here in Qatar. It gives even more faith for the future,” said Vazquez, who stressed that he was not too upset of losing the third position.

Spanish Nicolas Terol, who started from the pole position was unbeatable; he took a clear lead immediately during the first few laps.

Grand Prix of Qatar – Race Classification

1. Nicolas Terol Spain, Bankia Aspar Team Aprilia 38.28,687

2. Sandro Cortese Germany, Intact-Racing Team Germany Aprilia + 7,710

3. Sergio Gadea Spain, Pev-Blusens-SMX-Paris Hilton Aprilia + 9,147

4. Efren Vazquez Spain, Avant-AirAsia-Ajo Derbi + 9,514

5. Jonas Folger Germany, Red Bull Ajo Motorsport Aprilia + 9,698

6. Johann Zarco France, Avant-AirAsia-Ajo Derbi + 15,260

13. Danny Kent Great-Britain, Red Bull Ajo Motorsport Aprilia + 44,001

17. Niklas Ajo Finland, TT Motion Events Racing Aprilia + 1.01,545

19. Zulfahmi Khairuddin Malaysya, Airasia-Sic-Ajo Derbi + 1.05,192

words & pix: SIC

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