Zulfahmi Aims to spring a surprise in Silverstone

Published on June 19th, 2010

With his father Khairuddin Weji expected in attendance for the first time, Malaysian MotoGP 125cc rider Zulfahmi Khairuddin has pledged to outdo himself at the AirAsia British Grand Prix in Silverstone this weekend and present a ‘surprise’ gift for his fans and supporters.

The AirAsia Sepang International Circuit rider also declared that he would also be spurred by the special occasion at the British Grand Prix with the low cost Malaysian air carrier being the title sponsor for the Grand Prix.

“It will indeed be a special event for me at Silverstone … my father will be there, Shahrol Yuzy will be there as well and this event carrying the name AirAsia as the title sponsor. I will present them a ‘surprise’ at Silverstone this Sunday,” Zulfahmi told the Malaysian media hosted by AirAsia for the race.

“I am truly indebted to AirAsia and also SIC for their support and belief in me in making my dream coming true, to compete in the MotoGP. I owed AirAsia and SIC a lot and I am to do well at Silverstone to repay them for their support and confidence,” he told the reporters in London.

The AirAsia British Grand Prix would be Round 5 of the world championship with Silverstone returning to the scene as one of the host for the event for the first time since 1986. After four rounds, Zulfahmi is still without a point but his performances in Qatar, Spain, France and Mugello in Italy had been commendable.

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“Malaysians can expect me going all out and giving more than 100 percent here in Silverstone this Sunday. I will want to give everybody a surprise,” said Zulfahmi, who, however, did not elaborate on the subject.

Son of a canteen operator, Zulfahmi was a product of former Malaysian world GP rider, Shahrol Yuzy Ahmad Zaini, who took the kid from Banting, Selangor under his wings four years ago to compete in the PETRONAS Malaysian Cub Prix Championship.

He saw an article in a newspaper on the Aprilia Junior GP Dream Programme and decided to try his luck. Financial limitations allowed him to compete in some of the rounds; but his potential was spotted by Shahrol Yuzy, who was the trainer for the programme.

That opened the door for Zulfahmi to venture into the PETRONAS Malaysian Cub Prix Championship where he started in the Wira category before being promoted to the novice class by his Modenas Yuzy Pachi Racing Team in 2008. In the following year, he was selected among 17 top Malaysian Cub Prix riders for the special wildcard programme to race at the Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix.

He was selected along with an older Elly Idzlianizar Ilias as the Malaysian wildcard riders; and an impressive performance by the young Zulfahmi convinced AirAsia and SIC to broker for the formation of Malaysia’s second MotoGP team and the first for the 125cc class.

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“My life has been quite magical, actually. Sometimes, I cannot believe that I got this chance to race in the MotoGP,” said Zulfahmi, who made a creditable debut at the Qatar Grand Prix under the floodlights of Losail Circuit as he qualifying in 17th place out of 26 riders; and finishing the actual race in 21st place.

Asked whether his new status at as MotoGP star changed him, Fahmi replied: “Changed? Me, changed? No. I am still the old Fahmi. I am not even a star. I am still the same person… the rider from Banting who is blessed with an opportunity to race at the MotoGP. It’s a dream come true,” said Zulfahmi, who firmly believed that he would be stronger as the season progresses.

“I am getting to understand the bike better; I’m adjusting myself better with the life here and my communication with the mechanics has been good despite our language barrier,” said Zulfahmi, who has already started learning Italian and French.

With Silverstone returning to the MotoGP fold for the first time since 1986, Zulfahmi will start on the race on par with all other riders – on zero data except on what they could acquire during the race weekend.

“Everybody will be on equal footing for this round. I will not be at a disadvantage like all the other previous rounds where most of rivals already knew the tracks very well. Silverstone will be different,” said a highly motivated Zulfahmi.

text & pix: Stadium Astro

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