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LAST_UPDATESat, 21 Apr 2018 9pm

Hafizh: Earning Points In Qatar Will Be A Bonus

KUALA LUMPUR: Rookie Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah is relieved to have passed his first MotoGP 'exam' in flying colours at the season opening Qatar Motorcycle Grand Prix.

On Saturday, the Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider saved his best for last at the Losail International Circuit as he clocked one minute and 55.258 seconds in his final lap in the qualifying session to place a commendable 15th on the grid.

He was the second fastest rookie after Italian Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) who secured 14th on 1:55.169s.

Hafizh, who is only one of two Asians competing in the premier class this season, is now looking to finish his first-ever MotoGP race without any mishaps. The other Asian rider is Japan’s Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu).

"I am grateful to have passed my first exam in MotoGP," said the 23-year-old, who has been impressive since the first practice in Qatar.

“I felt really good today (on Saturday). I think I could have done even better as in turn nine I went a little bit wide. Without this, I’m sure I would have been able to be a tenth of a second faster.

"But anyway, 15th position to start my first-ever MotoGP race is really great for me.

"Now, I will fully focus on the race and I hope to race without making mistakes during the 22 laps. The team are hoping that I can finish the race (without mishap). There is still a lot more that I need to learn in MotoGP.

"It will be a bonus If I can score some points (top 15). Of course, a good show tonight will further motivate me to do better in my next races."

Although Hafizh never really impressed during qualifying in his four years in Moto2, arguably due to a less competitive bike, he has always been known for his overall racecraft and ability to ride on the limit when it mattered.

It was a joyous day overall for Tech3 as Hafizh's teammate Johann Zarco of France took pole in a new record of 1:53.680s to erase the decade old mark of 1:53.927s, set by Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo.

Zarco took the Rookie of the Year title last season and is someone Hafizh will look to learn from and emulate this season.

- NST