2018 Monster Yamaha Tech3 MotoGP Lineup: Hafizh Syahrin & Johann Zarco

The Monster Yamaha Tech3 MotoGP team was initially set to take on 2018 MotoGP with riders Johann Zarco and Jonas Folger.

But just ahead of the first official MotoGP test of 2018 at Sepang, Folger had announced that he would not compete this season, saying he “doesn’t feel completely ready.” Folger was forced to cut his 2017 rookie MotoGP season short due to suffering from Gilbert’s syndrome, which is a liver condition inherited through a gene mutation that can slow down the body under stress.

With little time available, the French-based Monster Yamaha Tech3 team was in a scramble to find a replacement rider. That rider was finally announced Wednesday – Hafizh Syahrin.

MotoGP: Hafizh Syahrin to Fill Folger's Seat on Monster Yamaha Tech3
Hafizh Syahrin during the Thailand MotoGP Test

The Malaysian rider began racing select Moto2 races in 2011, and competed full time for the Petronas Raceline Malaysia Kalex team from 2014-2017, claiming a best finish of second in 2017 at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli.

Syahrin had his first outing on the Monster Yamaha Tech3 YZR-M1 during the three-day test last week at Thailand’s Chang International Circuit, the 23-year-old roughly two seconds off the pace.

“I’m incredibly delighted after receiving the good news, that I will ride with Monster Yamaha Tech3 in 2018. Following three very interesting and great days of testing in Buriram, where I learned a lot, I want to thank my crew again, especially Nico and Maxime, but also Johann and Laurent for their advices,” Hafizh Syahrin says.

“In just a short time, I really learned to fully control a MotoGP bike, which is still unbelievable for me. I’ll try to do my best and will give all I have this year. I want to thank Hervé, Yamaha Motor Corporation, Monster and the entire Tech3 team to believe in me and giving me this fantastic opportunity to compete full season in MotoGP.

“Thank you to my family, that always supported me to make this dream come true, especially my father, plus thanks to my fans and of course to Razlan. I’m looking forward to test again in Qatar and I’ll be even more motivated. Honestly, I can’t wait for the season to start. I’m just overwhelmed!”

Razlan Razali, SIC Chief Executive Officer, says: “The recent test in Buriram was already history made for Hafizh. This official announcement of Hafizh competing the full season with Monster Yamaha Tech3 team is the biggest announcement and achievement for a Malaysian rider after more than 26 years of Malaysia hosting MotoGP. It is also a fantastic news for the Asian region. I must thank Hervé Poncharal for this opportunity, his faith and confidence in Hafizh. We will now hand over Hafizh in his good care for him to be developed into a better, competitive and complete MotoGP rider.”

Hervé Poncharal, Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team Manager, also commented: “I’m really happy to announce that Hafizh Syahrin will be the second Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider alongside Johann Zarco. It’s been a tough time since we heard from Jonas Folger, that unfortunately he decided not to race in 2018 in order to look after his health and try to fully recover. It has been a long process to find somebody, who could be the one.

“In Sepang I met Razlan Razali, we were just chatting and now and then you have crazy ideas, which are sometimes the ones that bring the best result. I would like to thank Razlan Razali for his passion, his contagious energy and the involvement he has for MotoGP racing and for the sport in general, plus to support Hafizh Syahrin to climb the last step to the premier class.

“We had to convince all the people around us, that Hafizh is going to be a good MotoGP rider. Therefore, we had to give him a tough task during the three days of testing in Buriram. In the end, he did a tremendous job, he fulfilled the mission. Yamaha was more than happy with his performance and the whole Tech3 team was delighted. I am very honored and proud to give him this chance and I know this is going to be something historical, because it’s the first time that a Malaysian rider is racing a full season on a MotoGP bike and we know how popular our sport in this part of the world is.

“I want to tell Hafizh: Welcome in our family! We will take care of you like our son and I’m quite sure we can have a great season. You can learn from the team, from Johann. Thank you for your enthusiasm and for your involvement. I can’t wait to be in Qatar with you on our bike.”