Zamri Baba realistic on chances in his MOTO2 debut

Published on September 27th, 2010

Always a practical man, Mohd Zamri Baba, who will be making history as Malaysia’s first ever rider in Moto2, says that he would be realistic of his chances at the upcoming Malaysian Grand Prix next month; describing the race as the biggest challenge in his life and the most difficult in his racing career.

“I would love to say that I would be challenging for world championship points; but it would not be realistic. Naturally, I would do my very, very best; but even then, it would not be enough … these are riders that competed round after round; and I am coming into the contest for the first time with very limited knowledge on my bike.”

“I am thrilled and happy to be given the opportunity; and I thank all the parties involved in providing me this golden opportunity to compete on the world stage – SIC, Two Wheels and PETRONAS especially … it’s undoubtedly my dream and a dream of all the Malaysian riders I know. But, it is important for the Malaysian fans not go overboard about my chances … I will be competing with former MotoGP riders, former world champions of the 125cc class, the top 250cc riders last year  and riders that had competed on the world stage for a few seasons. The level of competition is very, very high,” said the PETRONAS Sprinta Yamaha rider.

Introduced this year to replace the 250cc class, the Moto2 world championship, which runs on 600cc four-stroke engines, was an instant hit with the motorcycling fraternity with no less than 40 riders signing up to compete in the inaugural season.

The championship is currently lead by ex MotoGP rider Tony Elias of Gresini Racing Team, which runs on a Moriwaki chassis. Zamri’s chance to compete at the Malaysian Grand Prix was created after he recorded impressive lap times at Sepang Circuit recently when he joined Team Moriwaki Engineering in their development tests.

The opportunity to test the Moriwaki Moto2 bike for Zamri and team-mate Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman was made possible through Sepang International Circuit (SIC), Two Wheels Motor Racing, PETRONAS Motorsports and Moriwaki Engineering in what had been described as Phase II of the GP Wildcard Programme that was introduced last year.

Currently Malaysia’s top rider in the 600cc Supersports Championship at the Asian Road Racing Championship, Zamri was selected over Azlan Shah as there was only one Moto2 bike available for the ride at the 2010 Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix.

To be held at Sepang Circuit from October 8 to 10, Zamri would be joined at world stage by Team Air Asia Sepang International Circuit 125cc rider Muhammad Zulfahmi Khairuddin, beneficiary of last year’s GP Wildcard Programme and eventually granted a full season ride this year.

Zamri said: “I hope to do well … I aim to do well. People who know me would know how I approach my races… always giving 110 percent in all the races. But, motor racing in never about the rider per se… that’s the bike that plays a key role in determining the results.”

“Then, there’s also the time you spent on the bike; getting the best parts for the bike… preparation, understanding the behavior of the machine and perhaps, even psychic understanding with other crew members… all these things take time and hardwork. Just look at (Valentino) Rossi, Jeremy Burgess and their team crew… they simply understand and they know each other very well,” said Zamri, who is highly respected among his peers for his dedication to sports and easily the fittest among the top Malaysian riders.

“Sincerely, I hope it will open new doors for me in motor racing. I have always aim to improve myself in this sports. If only this opportunity had come to me at the earlier phase of my career,” said the 27-year old rider from Klang, who was heartbroken of not being selected for last year’s wildcard ride.

Prior to his Moto2 adventure in three weeks’ time in Sepang, Zamri would have the PETRONAS Malaysian Cub Prix in Melaka this weekend to focus on.

Currently fifth in the championship standings with 67 points, Zamri, who raced for PETRONAS Sprinta Yamaha Team Ah Hong Motor, said he was expecting another difficult weekend at the Hang Jebat Stadium.

“You know my problem… my bike has never been competitive enough. My rivals are having far better machinery. But, having said that, I would be giving my best and hoping for the best as well,” said Zamri, who currently trailed championship leader Ahmad Fazli Sham by 47 points with four more rounds to go.

words & pix: SIC

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