89-pawi_gp_0133_0.big

In his first season in the Moto3 Grand Prix World Championship, and only his third race, 17-year old Khairul Idham Pawi of Honda Team Asia took first place at the Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina, becoming the first Malaysian to do so. Held at the Termas de Rio Hondo racetrack, the race started wet, with Khairul opting for slick tyres in the hopes that the track would dry out, and banking on the high levels of grip from the track surface.

While South African Brad Binder of Red Bull KTM Ajo got a strong start, Khairul powered through the pack from his seventh place penalty spot on the grid to take a half-second lead by the middle of the first lap. Khairul collected a three place penalty during first free qualifying on Friday for riding too slowly – in the hopes of getting a tow from faster riders to improve his qualifying time – dropping his fourth place qualifying position to seventh.

Khairul finished the race in a time of 41’35.2″, ahead of Spaniard Jorge Navarro of Estrella Galicia 0,0 and Binder, beating them by 26.1 and 30 seconds respectively. Fellow Malaysian Adam Norrodin of Drive M7 SIC Racing Team managed 11th place after high-siding his bike within sight of the finish line. Locked in a battle for second with Navarro, Adam managed to push his bike across the finish, to the applause of the Argentinian crowd.

Lapping the course a consistent three seconds ahead of the rest of the field, Khairul’s performance has drawn praise from MotoGP fans. “For the race today I am so happy! There were difficult conditions on the track but I tried to keep my lap time and hang onto first position. I pushed really hard in the first lap to escape from the others,” said Khairul.