Johann Zarco was delighted to hear that Monster Yamaha Tech3 decided to retain Malaysian rider Hafizh Syahrin for the 2018 MotoGP season. Syahrin was brought in alongside Zarco for the Buriram test in Thailand. He finished his MotoGP debut 22nd out of 24 riders. He suffered one fall and his best time was 1.67 seconds slower than Zarco’s. The Frenchman was fastest for much of the final day before Honda’s Dani Pedrosa topped the session.
Ever since, Folger stepped down from racing in the middle of last season, Zarco has had several team-mates and Syahrin is his 5th. The Frenchman spoke about the Malaysian and was asked for his verdict on the 23-year-old’s performance. He said, “Really happy for him, I hope we can keep him for the season, because he has a lot of humility and he’s a very clean, very smooth rider. Being smooth on the bike means he has more margin to grow up and be faster. It’s never easy, but it looks like – compared to all the guys the team had since last season – he’s the one with the most margin to improve. He is younger with more humility. So he is ready to sign…”
Zarco and Syahrin have raced against each other in Moto2 and the two will be run again at the final pre-season test in Qatar from March 1-3. Syahrin debuted in Moto2 in 2011 as a wildcard in the Malaysian GP. A year later, he was again given a wildcard shot in Malaysia, this time, he somehow landed on the podium in 3rd place. He made his full-time debut in 2014 and had a string of good finishes. In the 2017 season, he recorded 2 podiums with a career best 2nd in San Marino and 3rd in Japan.
Tech3’s Herve Poncharal had several options on the table to replace the ill Jonas Folger. However, he admitted that he did not wish to break another rider’s contract and cause his former team any difficulty.