MCN’s sources believe that Malaysian racer Hafizh Syahrin is now one of the prime candidates to replace German rider Jonas Folger at the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team for the 2018 MotoGP season, with the 23-year-old potentially set to become South East Asia’s first racer in the premier class.
Folger, who is continuing to struggle with illness and announced last week that he will sit out this season, was replaced at the Sepang test this week by Yonny Hernandez. But with him signing a deal to race for Pedercini Kawasaki in World Superbikes and Tech 3 team boss Herve Poncharal insistent that he wouldn’t break a rider’s contract to sign a replacement, the Colombian looked set to only ride for the French squad for one week.
However, with Syahrin sponsored by the Sepang International Circuit and part of their development project, that could potentially ease any issue in moving him from Johan Stigefelt‘s Sepang-sponsored Moto2 team into the premier class for the coming season.
Speaking today to MCN, Poncharal, who was at this week’s test at the Sepang circuit, confirmed that the Malaysian rider’s name is now on their list of potentials – but was adamant that a deal is still far from confirmed.
“Right now, nothing has been decided by far, because there are different priorities from some of my partners. They have different ideas depending on whether they’re on one side of the Atlantic or the other, and for some of them Asia is very important and for others not so much.
“Syahrin is one of the new names that wasn’t on the list until now but that is now definitely on the list – but believe me, it is very far from being done. Right now, I’m really tired of the situation. We have to take care of our motorcycle manufacturer and of our sponsors, and right now the contract that I sold to all those people was with Johann Zarco and Jonas Folger. Anything different needs to be discussed, and everyone has their own ideas with me in the middle.”
Despite being only 23, Syahrin has spent five seasons in the middleweight class since joining the Grand Prix paddock full time in 2013, taking a best finish of ninth in 2016 and scoring two podiums last year in the rain, at Misano and Motegi.