MotoGP: Sepang pitching for a MotoGP team?
The 2019 MotoGP grid could be set for a big shake up, with MCN’s sources confirming that the bosses of the Sepang International Circuit are heading to this weekend’s Jerez Grand Prix to try and secure a spot on the grid to expand their team for the premier class.
Instrumental in getting Malaysian rider Hafizh Syahrin onto the grid for this season as a late replacement for Jonas Folger at the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team, his impressive results have left them working to secure his future in the championship.
And, with Yamaha parting company with the Tech 3 team at the end of this season as the French squad move to KTM, the Malaysians are reportedly already in talks with the Japanese manufacturers to keep Syahrin on their machinery should they find themselves a slot on the grid.
However, with the MotoGP grid fixed at 24 bikes until the end of the 2020 season, it’ll mean that Sepang will be forced to get their chequebooks out if they want to line up next year. Only able to join the grid if they can buy out an existing team, it might not be too much of a stretch to see them team up with Aspar or Avintia to replace their current Ducati machinery and keep Syahrin (and likely a European teammate) on the grid.
It’ll be welcome news for Yamaha as well, currently facing two years without any satellite presence. All but destined to be taken on by Valentino Rossi’s VR46 squad when he retires from racing, it’s left other independent teams wary of committing to what could be a very short-term deal with the factory.