Zulfahmi advised against being overzealous at Sachsenring

Published on July 15th, 2010

As Zulfahmi Khairuddin and his legion of fans anxiously awaits the German Grand Prix this weekend following his commendable performance in Catalunya, motorsports figure Ron Hogg cautions the young rider and his fans over the anticipated high expectations for the race in Sachsenring .

Ron, chief organizer of the PETRONAS Malaysian Cub Prix Champion and a brotherly figure to the Team AirAsia Sepang International Circuit Racing rider, hoped that Fahmi would put unnecessary pressure on himself and approach the German race as he had done for the last six rounds.

“Fahmi’s approach to the coming race should be to keep up the good work that he has done so far and I hope that he does not pressure himself to think he can score in every race after this. More importantly, we don’t feel disappointed if he does not score. We are happy that he broke the duck; but we’re happier that he qualified well. Race results has an element of lady luck; but I feel that it’s your qualifying time position that shows your level,” said Ron, who occasionally visits Fahmi at the GP race circuits with SIC Chief Executive Officer Razlan Razali.

A product of Malaysia’s GP Wildcard Programme, which Razlan and Ron helped put together last year with the support of the Youth and Sports Ministry, AirAsia, PETRONAS, SIC, Two Wheels Motor Racing, Dunlop, Motorsports Association of Malaysia and Automobile Association of Malaysia, Fahmi’s debut season in the MotoGP 125cc world championship so far has been described as commendable.

Moving to Europe without a shred of experience in MotoGP, Fahmi, who is based in Bologna, Italy in between races, is trained by World Wide Racing Team, which Ron and Razlan both agreed that had done a great job in training and advising the young Malaysian rider.

At Round 6 in Catalunya on July 4, the 18-year old Fahmi, who competed in two seasons at the PETRONAS Malaysian Cub Prix Championship before his MotoGP adventure, performed beyond expectations to score his first world championship point after finishing 15th at the Catalunyan Grand Prix.

Asked to commenting on Fahmi’s  progress since his first GP in Qatar, Ron said: “Tremendously and still progressing … from a physical point of view, he currently has two to three percent body fat as opposed to seven percent when he first left.

“The experience gained is the most valuable, but overall we have to be very happy with his progress. We are very happy especially with his race pace, which is improving every race. He needs to be warmed up faster in the first few laps of the race as he starts well and then fades the first few laps before picking up momentum. In the 125cc race, it is important to keep up with the group and Fahmi’s in most races has been riding alone quite a lot!,” said Ron, who was however, quick to add that it was still his first season and that he was still on the learning curve.

“It is his first year, we are not trying to give excuses. But, every race he takes part in gives him that extra experience. The 125GP in my opinion is one of the toughest classes to be at … with all the bikes being very similar and all good riders!”

“Having Fahmi’s bike set up properly is the most important part he needs to work on; but he is being properly assisted by his Chief technician and mechanics, apart from that we are quite confident he will progress,” he added.

Ron, who saw the rise of Fahmi in cub prix since the last two years, had only praises for Fahmi; but said that there was still plenty for the young rider to learn; stressing that there was no short cut in motor racing.

On whether Fahmi can progress to become a title contender in the future, Ron said: “This really depends on the rider. I believe that there are two important qualities are required … first the heart, to give it all when given the opportunity; and second is the right mindset – to be determined and disciplined. If these two qualities are there, everything else will follow. Some riders progress very quickly, some takes a longer time. A good example is Rattaphak(Walairot, who is currently in his 6th year in GP) …  still no podium yet but showed great qualities in Assen; fighting for 2nd before finishing 4th!”

“In my opinion, Fahmi has been a success, so was Shahrol Yuzy when he was there (from 2000 to  2002); but we need to be patient!  Look at Bradley Smith … he has been there for years and they still consider him a potential for the future!,” said Ron.

Saying that there was good prospect for Malaysians to make an impact in the sports of motorcycling, Ron, who is also the chief organizer of the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship, stressed the need for continued support for development programmes especially at the grassroot level.

“We hope that the younger Malaysians aspire to be the best in what they do, opportunities exist but they must show their will! I think Zulfahmi being in GP now is due much to PETRONAS Malaysian Cub Prix’s development programme with young riders!, which of course is reflected in our tagline ‘to develop Malaysia’s future champions’.

“The average age of riders is dropping rapidly now by more than 50 percent … Cub Prix riders are now 18years and below and many talented ones such as Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah, who is 16; and Ramdan Rosli, who is 14, and are already champions at their age!

“It is our hope as well that this new riders joining are aspring to be like Fahmi! The bigger the pool of young riders we have, the better chance we will have to find a world champion!  Malaysia has plenty of talented riders and to be honest many are better than Zulfahmi, unfortunately for some of them age is catching up … hence, the need to have a big pool of young riders! Then, we can choose the best quality from the quantity. Hence, the importance of grassroot developments,” Ron added.

Yesterday, Razlan announced that the GP Wildcard Programme, which had Fahmi and Elly Idzlianizar Ilias competing in the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix last year, would continue this season with the group to be selected from a pool of 10 cub prix riders aged below 18 years old.

At a press conference on the Merdeka Millennium Endurance Race in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, Razlan said that the programme would be run by Ron and his team at Two Wheels Motor Racing with support from SIC, Dunlop and the Italian team Ongetta.

“It will be finalized, hopefully by the end of next week. And, we have enough time to select and train the rider for the race,” said Razlan, adding that two months would be enough to train the rider based on last year’s experience.

The 2010 Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix, which would be the 20th edition of the Malaysian GP, would be held at Sepang Circuit from October 8th to 10th.

text: SIC  pix: Mirco Lazzari

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