Monday October 29, 2012
Zulfahmiís Phillip Island jinx continues
KUALA LUMPUR: There was no happy ending for Moto3 rider Muhammad Zulfahmi Khairuddin in his 50th race in the FIM World Motorcycle Championships.
The 21-year-old continued to be haunted by the Australian MotoGP jinx as engine issues forced him to retire despite leading the first six laps of the 23-lap race.
Starting from fifth on the grid, Zulfahmi made a promising start to surge to the front as he took the holeshot ahead of world champion Sandro Cortese, Jonas Folger and Efren Vasquez, who all started from the front row.
The AirAsia SIC Ajo rider made history by winning his first career podium with the second placing at the previous round at his home Grand Prix in Sepang a week ago.
But as the race entered Lap 7, the frontrunners led by Cortese passed Zulfahmi, who appeared to be encountering problems with his bike. The Malaysian rider continued to drop further in the race positions and was at the tail-end of the second group midway through the race in 10th position.
He managed to improve his position to ninth after Maverick Vinales crashed out of the race from the front on Lap 15 but Zulfahmi was clearly struggling. He eventually retired with four more laps to go, ending another disappointing adventure in Phillip Island.
Zulfahmi failed to qualify in 2010 and struggled to 20th last year in the 125cc bike.
Sepang International Circuit chief executive officer Datuk Razlan Razali said it’s important for Zulfahmi to immediately put aside the disappointment and focus on the next race – the final round in Valencia in two weeks’ time.
“Zulfahmi clearly had engine issues today. He started well and was not able to maintain the speed and acceleration due to problems with his bike. He was clearly struggling for power midway through the race and this is indeed a disappointment for us all.
“Again, it is a luckless weekend for Zulfahmi in Australia. But we need to draw all the positives from this weekend’s race and immediately focus on the race in Valencia.”
Zulfahmi has dropped one rung to eighth overall in the world championship standings with 112 points with Miguel Oliveira jumping above the Malaysian to seventh position on 114 points, courtesy of the Portuguese’s second place in Phillip Island.
With a round to go and a maximum of 25 points to ride for, Zulfahmi holds a 19-point advantage over ninth-placed Folger and Vasquez, who are both tied on 93 points.
Winning the race and adding another 25 championship points, Cortese cemented his position at the top with an unassailable 305 points.