Thursday, 12 September 2019

Sepang Racing Team announce 8 hours of Sepang team

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 9 -- Sepang Racing Team (SRT) has announced the line-up for the first ever Eight Hours of Sepang round of the FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC) on December 13 to 15.

According to the team’s statement, the MotoGP racer and former Moto2 World Champion Franco Morbidelli, Suzuka Eight Hour multiple winner Michael van der Mark and local superstar Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah would be joining forces on Yamaha YZF-R1 machine to take on the team's home race.

Competing for the first time in an endurance race, but with the backing of former Endurance World Champions Yamaha Austria Racing Team (YART), the squad would be out for nothing less than glory at the first running of a world championship endurance battle under the brand-new state-of-the-art floodlights at the Sepang International Circuit.

Making his endurance debut, Morbidelli’s record in the MotoGP World Championship with PETRONAS Yamaha SRT meant there was no doubting his speed.

Already familiar with both the YZF-R1 bike and with the Sepang circuit, the Italian-Brazilian racer is excited to be able to try something new and to stay sharp during the MotoGP off-season.

"I’m curious to see how an endurance race format suits me, and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a different thing, it’s something nice, and when Razlan (Datuk Razlan Razali) asked me to do it I thought ‘sure, why not?’ The combination of Yamaha and Sepang Racing Team means it should be a strong package, and it’ll be nice to race with a production bike again.

"Riding bikes is always good for staying in shape, so it’s nice to be able to race in December. I’ve trained with a YZF-R1 before so I’ve got an idea of what to expect, but I’m sure the endurance superbike will be very different. I might make the most of the trip and use it to enjoy a holiday in Malaysia as well," said Morbidelli.

The Dutchman Mark added a huge wealth of experience to the team, not only as a Yamaha World Superbike race winner but also as one of the most successful racers in the history of the Suzuka 8 Hour.

A four-time victor at one of motorsport’s most prestigious races, there’s no questioning his endurance know-how as he joined the squad.

"When I first saw there would be an EWC round at Sepang in December I knew it would be cool to race it so I’m really proud that the team asked me - plus how can you say no to such a great team and race at their home track? Sepang is hot and humid and it will be really hard work - but that’s also the part of the challenge of endurance racing and I really enjoy it.

"I will do everything to help the team with the bit of endurance experience I have because we want to fight for victory! We’ve got a really strong squad but we have to be smart and consistent, because for sure our goal will be to win the team’s home race!" Mark added.

National rider Hafizh Syahrin is no stranger to the Sepang circuit either, hailing from Malaysia and a veteran of countless races in multiple classes at the track.

"I’m really looking forward to taking part in the first EWC race in Malaysia. It’s not my first endurance race as I’ve ridden at the Suzuka 8 Hour before, but it’ll be very different riding in front of our home fans! It’s a really good opportunity for me to test my physical endurance because it’ll be a very long and hot race, and the most important thing will be how we work as a team," said Hafizh Syahrin.

Meawnhile, SRT's team principal Datuk Razlan Razali said they were very excited to have an entry in the first 8 Hours of Sepang as a better way to support Tourism Malaysia's Visit Truly Asia Malaysia 2020 campaign.

"These Races of Malaysia will provide an incredible spectacle of truly international appeal. We have faith that Franco, Michael, Hafizh and YART will deliver and we’re targeting the very top step of the podium.”

As well as hosting the FIM Endurance World Championship race, the event would also see the FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) take place alongside it in a ground-breaking fusion of the worlds of two-and-four-wheel motorsport under the headline, Races of Malaysia.

Collaborating with Tourism Malaysia as part of their Visit Truly Asia Malaysia 2020 campaign, both events will harness the hashtag #RoadToMalaysia to support the initiative.

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