MotoGP: Rookies Morbidelli and Syahrin step up to the mark

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MotoGP’s 2018 rookies have stepped up to the mark in impressive form in the opening race of the season, with reigning Moto2 world champion Franco Morbidelli impressing by taking a strong finish in 12th place. However, the real shock of Sunday’s race might well be Malaysian Hafizh Syahrin, coming home in 14th place despite being written off by many when he was announced as Jonas Folger’s late replacement.

Not only securing a good position and taking points first time out, Morbidelli says that he was able to learn a lot in the race as he unexpectedly found himself in battle with factory riders in the early part.

"This was a better result than I expected and a very good first race for me, I'm happy especially with the commitment I had from the team. I had good speed but the most important thing was to finish the race and learn and I was able to do this. Early in the race I was with Jorge Lorenzo and Maverick Viñales and this was nice feeling. Now I have to continue to understand more about MotoGP and improve."

That’s sentiments echoed by Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Syahrin too, admitting after the race that he’s aware how much work he still has to do after starting the season two tests down on his rivals.

“I finished my first MotoGP race inside the points, which is even beyond my target, but when you put your focus and your motivation there, it is possible. Around seven laps to go, I changed the power of the bike and four laps later, I switched back again. It’s also a huge part of my learning curve to understand the electronics. I was a bit nervous in the race, I didn’t want to make any mistake and end up in the gravel. I finished the race and brought two points for the team, which makes me truly happy.”

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer