Hafizh Syahrin will become MotoGP’s first ever Malaysian rider, following Tech 3’s decision to choose the 23 year old as the unwell Jonas Folger’s replacement.
Folger announced last month that he would be taking a sabbatical from MotoGP following a battle with mononucleosis that forced him to miss the last three races of 2017.
Tech 3 ran ex-MotoGP man Yonny Hernandez at the recent Sepang pre-season test, although his contract with the Perdercini World Superbike team likely prevented him from becoming a full-season contender for the Tech 3 seat.
Syahrin was given the job for the Thailand test. The Malaysian rider showed rapid improvement, and finished only 1.7 seconds off the fastest laptime set by Dani Pedrosa.
Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal had stated several times that he would not pursue any riders with a current contract to replace Folger, and that he wanted a youngster from Moto 2 rather than a more experienced rider.
Syahrin’s MotoGP chance looked secured when the SIC Racing Team, who Syahrin had ridden for in Moto 2 since 2014, announced his departure and replacement, Zulfahmi Khairuddin.
Syahrin comes off the back of two strong years in Moto 2, the class he has competed in since 2012, scoring three podiums in that time with a best of second, the first coming in only his second ever Moto 2 Grand Prix at his home event in 2012 as he took third in sodden conditions.
The young Malaysian secured his best riders championship finish in 2016, taking ninth despite not securing a rostrum finish all season.