Monday January 7, 2013
Red Bull’s Zulfahmi all out to improve last season’s feat
By LIM TEIK HUAT
PETALING JAYA: A fitter and more determined Moto3 rider Zulfahmi Khairuddin wants to tackle the bull by the horns when he starts his fourth full season in the FIM World Motorcycle Championships in April.
Zulfahmi is stepping up to join the factory team of Red Bull KTM Racing this year and he hopes to draw on his experience from three previous seasons to help him achieve more breakthrough results.
Zulfahmi marked his best-ever season last year, collecting 128 points for a seventh-place finish. He also had two podium finishes and a first-ever pole.
The pole was earned at Sepang on his 21st birthday (Oct 20). He was unlucky not to cap it with a win as he was beaten at the second last corner by German Sandro Cortese, who went on to capture the world title.
Zulfahmi put up a superb fighting display to secure third from 17th on the starting grid at the final round of the season in Valencia last month.
Malaysian riders even struggled to earn wildcard rides in the past and Zulfahmi has proved that it is not impossible for a local to make it at the world stage.
But the 21-year-old is hoping that there will be better things to come.
“Expectations will increase this year now that I am with the world champion team for Moto3.
“I started quite late in Moto3 compared to the other riders as they already have six to seven years of experience at this level.
“But after three seasons, I don’t want to use this as an excuse. I have improved my fitness level during the off-season by going to the gym daily, riding motocross and motard bikes.
“The team have not put any pressure on me. But personally, I want to finish top five overall and be able to fight for podiums when the opportunity comes.
“Fitness will be the key to whether I can achieve my personal goals as the season is long,” said Zulfahmi, who will line up alongside Australian Arthur Sissis and Spaniard Luis Salom.
Zulfahmi, who was presented with a KTM motocross bike recently to help him practise his skills at the motocross track in Sepang, will head to Spain at the end of this month to get ready for private testing with the team.
The Banting-born rider will be involved in the official pre-season test in Valencia in March.