Hafizh Syahrin Now Main Candidate For Tech 3 MotoGP Seat As Zulfahmi Khairuddin Confirmed In His Moto2 Ride

The chances of MotoGP getting its first ever Malaysian rider are rising exponentially. It is looking ever more likely that Hafizh Syahrin, currently signed to the Petronas Sprinta Racing Team in Moto2, will move up to MotoGP and take over the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha seat vacated by Jonas Folger due to illness.

Rumors that Syahrin was a candidate to replace Folger first emerged after the opening MotoGP test of the 2018 season in Sepang, where a range of names were being bandied about. Few people were mentioning Syahrin, however, until MCN published a story linking the Malaysian rider to the team.

Since Saturday, things have moved into a higher gear. Today, the Petronas Sprinta Racing Team confirmed that Zulfahmi Khairuddin will be replacing Syahrin on the Kalex Moto2 machine the team will be fielding in 2018. At the same time, Syahrin confirmed in an Instagram post that he will be leaving the team to ride elsewhere.

The probability that "elsewhere" turns out to be the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha MotoGP teams now looks very high indeed. Several pieces have now fallen into place to make this possible, and especially solving the problem of riders getting out of contracts. With the Sepang International Circuit having a very big say in the running of the SIC and Petronas Sprinta Racing teams, it was relatively simple for them to release Syahrin from his contract, which Tech 3 boss Hervé Poncharal told MotoMatters.com was a requirement for any rider he would sign.

The announcement of Khairuddin on the Moto2 bike makes an announcement about Syahrin imminent. The odds of an official announcement on who will ride the Tech 3 Yamaha M1 being released early next week are high.

There is one possible stumbling block along the way. Syahrin has a long relationship with Malaysian oil giant Petronas, who have backed him for most of his career in Grand Prix racing. However, Tech 3 have a similarly long relationship with French oil company Motul, who are very prominent in MotoGP. This relationship will have to be solved before the deal can go forward.

No doubt that both Dorna and Yamaha would help grease the wheels of such a deal. Having a Malaysian rider in MotoGP would be an enormous coup for both the MotoGP series organizers and the Japanese manufacturer. Syahrin would be the first Malaysian to race in the premier class since its inception in 1949.

The move would not be a bad one from a sporting perspective either. Though Syahrin has not set the world alight in Moto2, he has been respectable, racking up three podiums in the class. He has finished in the top ten of the championship for the last two years, ahead of riders such as Mattia Pasini, Dominique Aegerter, Alex Márquez, Simone Corsi, Xavi Vierge, and Fabio Quartararo. He finished ahead of the other riders being linked to the ride – Sandro Cortese, Dominique Aegerter, and Yonny Hernandez the most prominent – and has consistently managed to finish in the top six.

More intriguing is his ability in the wet. When the rain falls, Syahrin finds another gear, all three of his podiums having come in wet conditions. Syahrin made history with Zulfahmi Khairuddin back in 2012, when the two Malaysians both finished on the podium at their home Grand Prix, Khairuddin in Moto3, Syahrin in Moto2. Syahrin's wet-weather riding skills mean he could cause a surprise or two if it rains. And given the recent history of MotoGP, rain seems certain at at least a couple of circuits this (and every) year.

Of course, nothing is done until the contracts are signed and the official press release has been issued. But all the signs so far are pointing in the direction of that being just a matter of days.

Gathering the background information for long articles such as these is an expensive and time-consuming operation. If you enjoyed this article, please consider supporting MotoMatters.com. You can help by either taking out a subscription, buying the beautiful MotoMatters.com 2017 racing calendar, by making a donation, or by contributing via our GoFundMe page.


Back to top


It's reasonable and very much fitting to Dorna philosophy: to have a South Asian rider in MotoGP is an excellent idea. We should remember the importance and the potential of that market. However, Syahrin is a decent rider and deserves a chance no matter what business his moving to MotoGP can create.

We are going anyway and have until mid March to get the lower price however now this is confirmed, it’s best we get them ordered.

But, I hear you cry, it hasn’t been confirmed?? Well, on the list of available grandstands, the previously mundanely named ‘C1’ tribune is now sporting a title of ‘C1 Hafizh Syahrin’ tribune.

And that, my friends, is good enough for me...

"Politics and money stuff"? You make it sound like Syahrin was chosen ahead of other, more qualified contenders because of dubious political or financial reasons.  The fact is, the pool of viable candidates was not exactly broad, and the choice of Syahrin makes sense given the circumstances. True, he would have not gotten an opportunity like this in normal circumstances, but pray tell which of the other potentially available candidates would have been clearly preferable from a sporting point of view. He'll be extremely motivated, will work very hard, will not be last at every race, and may very well surprise a lot of people in wet conditions.


HS55 - not a bad pick at all given the circumstances. Nicknamed "Pescau" which translates loosely as "fish fast in wet incredibly lucky Folger left while in transition from main Petronas Malaysia team."

He is big, Rossi height/weight exactly. 180cm 65kg (settings from 46? Great baseline). 23 yrs old. From age 9-15 he dominated SE Asian small bikes (they go from pocket bikes to odd sport scootery things there). At 16 he went to 600's where he adapted smoothly to finish mid pack right off in 2010. 2011 he was front pack and strong, 4th for the yr.

2012 Moto2 wildcard at his home race - HERE is where we get to see the goods! An FTR bike that is not the strongest out there that he had not spent much time with, he leads the race for a while and podiums. Outperforming some really great riders.

Weird route for a bit. Australian Formula Extreme Championship...then FIM CEV Championship. 2014 - 2017 he was full time Moto2 with a Malaysian team on a Kalex. He did fine, steady improvement his first three seasons - 2016 looked good, very consistent. Getting into the front pack on good weekends, and especially in wet/mixed conditions. 2017 was a bit of a step backwards but not disconcertingly.

Solid podiums in Moto2. On a smaller team and the bike not expected to be at the front. Interesting bit: "Hafizh made a sudden departure from Petronas Raceline Malaysia in October last year, after 10 years of competition. He was then dropped from Petronas Sprinta Racing, instead riding exclusively for SIC Racing Team in Moto 2."

Oh how welcome it would be to have aqua blue back in MotoGP. At the end of the year Motul (secondary sponsor) contract is up for Herve. Petronas has enough presence to become your PRIMARY sponsor Tech3! Black schmack, aqua goes well with yellow DeWalt/Stanley to boot. And leave the Monster right where it is.

He trains in the humid heat mountain biking, road biking, motocross, trials. He also cross country ski climbs. Expect high fitness.

Sincere big welcome mat to the addition of a culturally Muslim rider to MotoGP. Yes this is a good thing. Sofuglu has been here, but this friendly face gives much of the world something to rejoice in the paddock.

Hafiz, a favorite poet of mine, knows our yearning for an Alien that lay nascent:

"There is a Beautiful Creature
Living in a hole you have dug.

So at night
I set fruit and grains
And little pots of wine and milk
Besides your soft earthen mounds,

And I often sing.

But still, my dear,
You do not come out.

I have fallen in love with Someone
Who hides inside you.

We should talk about this problem--

I will never leave you alone."

Welcome HS55, now get to work!

I've not herd back fom Pole pozzie travel. If I have to organise it myself I will. I shall have a visit to Malaysia 2018. Now I know which hotel to stay in, cheers!

It will be a big jump for him for sure, hopefully he can step up and show potential, wet or dry.  But this will for sure be huge for the sport to have a Malasian rider in the top class, they tip a lot of money into motorcycle racing and it is clearly popular there, so I hope this all works out.

Syahrin is at least an interesting choice in that he is plainly an able young rider on the up and he may surprise everyone. Also he is new to MotoGP which means that whatever he does will be new.

I just hope he doesn't do a Taz Mackenzie!

I'm a bit confused... Hervé said he had had plenty of calls, and he would never ever take an already contracted rider.
But, isn't having Syarhin as "main candidate" doing just that? He may have a team manager willing to release him (seen one of their sponsors is organizing a race), Dorna may like the prospect of having a Malaysian in the top class... but still. Contract is contract, no?

Nevertheless, I wish him good luck if he lands the ride!
I'm all for the best from all the world in a World Championship, just hope "positive discrimination" isn't going to play too big of a role in the GP class. Should be the best of the best.
Even though I live in Belgium, I'm still surprised Xavier is riding there, don't think his results were good enough...

Hervé said the point was not to put another team in the same s..t he currently is. There is no isssue with Syahrin and David's article above demontrates how it was a non-issue to pull Syahrin off his team to let him get his ride in MotoGP. 

"There were some interesting names, honestly, but priority for me, the basis for me is that I will never take or enter into any kind of discussion with someone who has a contract."

"Of course, if I do it [accept a rider who breaks an existing contract], then what example is that? But honestly, even if I wasn't IRTA president, I would do the same. Either you have values or you don't."

but then again...
"I took the decision that we will not finalize who will replace Jonas Folger for 2018 before at the earliest Buriram test,"

...Hervé explained it further in french interviews he wouldn't like to sign someone who already has a contract except if it's proven this wouldn't cause damage to the team the rider wants to leave. IN other words, if the team and the rider are OK to break the contract , it's fine for Tech3.  Hernandez has a contract with Pedercini but Pedercine expressed clearly it was OK if Yonny had an opportunity to go to MotoGP (clause in his contract ? ) .

In Syahrin case, as long as the team as secured a replacement , it's fine. That's it. 

Why sorry? We just seem to have a different opinion.

Any sources where that nuance is reported? Haven't seen it, if so I stand corrected.
Regardless of that nuance, saying to the media: "I will never take or enter into any kind of discussion with someone who has a contract." and "Either you have values or you don't." is meaningless.

Was there a contract? Yes. Is it still there? No.

Just because a team manager (who did his/her work) agrees due to influence of a sponsor is irrelevant, no? Regardless whether they have a replacement on hand. Other top rides could do the same.

"At the end of the day, everybody is working hard, everybody is trying to finalize and make a plan," Poncharal said. "Finally you end up with a contract, and when both parties sign, this needs to have a value, because if a rider signs something thinking, 'OK, worst case scenario, this is what I have, but if there is a better opportunity, I'm going to take it...' then why do we sign a contract?"

Is this good for the sport? probably
Is this good for Dorna? yes

Is this good for Tech3? seems so, they were without rider and now they have a top-10 Moto2 contender
Is this good for Malaysia? guess so
Is this good for SIC? I'd say so
Is this good for the SIC Moto2 team? not really, they loose a top-10 contender and replace him with a Moto2-rookie/WSS-rider