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Wednesday, March 23, 2016
WSBK may be scrapped from Sepang next year
Zulfahmi (on bike) during the launch of the WSBK Malaysian round in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday. - AZLINA ABDULLAH / The Star
KUALA LUMPUR: The Sepang International Circuit (SIC) may stage its last Superbike World Championship (WSBK) this year.
The current three-year deal ends this May when Malaysia hosts the sixth leg from May 14-15.
SIC chief executive Datuk Razlan Razali hinted that they may not extend their contract with rights holders Dorna due to unprofitability and dwindling interest in the championship.
“We are undecided on whether to continue (hosting) or not,” said Razlan after launching a promotion campaign for the championship on Tuesday.
“Our motorsport fans here can relate to MotoGP (World Motorcycle Championship), but are still trying to understand what WSBK is all about.”
The SIC brought the WSBK to the country two years ago following strong interest in motorcycle racing. But it failed to take off with poor attendance. Only 22,664 fans turned up last year compared to 34,000 in the first season.
Razlan is now counting on debutant Zulfahmi Khairuddin, a former Moto3 rider, to draw in the fans in May.
Zulfahmi is racing for Orelac Racing VerdNatura in the Supersport category.
Despite being new to the series, the 24-year-old Zulfahmi has adapted well to the heavier 600cc machine.
He finished 13th in the season-opening race in Phillip Island, Australia, last month. He then went on to finish a creditable seventh at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand, two weeks ago.
Zulfahmi is now 11th in the riders’ standings with 12 points.
And he has vowed to make the local fans proud again just like he did in 2012 when he notched a career-best runner-up finish in Moto3 at Sepang.
“It’s all going well after the first two races. As a newcomer, I can’t really ask for a better start,” said Zulfahmi.
“I can only get better. I will try to build on the solid start and hopefully I’ll hit top form come May when the race is held in Malaysia.”