Local racer Hafizh Syahrin, better known to fans as “Pescao 55″, will be the first Malaysian to compete in the 2018 MotoGP season with satellite team Monster Yamaha Tech 3, after a successful winter test in Buriram, Thailand. He joins twice Moto 2 champion Johann Zarco in the French team.

Hafizh will be riding the Yamaha YZR-M1, and posted a time just 1.7 seconds off the fastest laptime set by Dani Pedrosa of Repsol Honda Team. 23-year old Hafizh, who comes from Ampang, was previously slated to compete in Moto 2 with SIC Racing Team, but left suddenly, only to land the position vacated by Jonas Folger, who pulled out of the 2018 MotoGP season due to injury.

“I’m incredibly delighted after receiving the good news that I will ride with Monster Yamaha Tech3 in 2018,” said Hafizh. “Following three very interesting and great days of testing in Buriram, where I learned a lot, I want to thank my crew again, especially Nico and Maxime, but also Johann and Laurent for their advices. In just a short time, I really learned to fully control a MotoGP bike, which is still unbelievable for me,” he said.

“I’m really happy to announce that Hafizh Syahrin will be the second Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider alongside Johann Zarco,” said Tech 3 team manager Herve Poncharal. “It has been a long process to find somebody, who could be the one,” he continued.

“We had to convince all the people around us, that Hafizh is going to be a good MotoGP rider. Therefore, we had to give him a tough task during the three days of testing in Buriram. In the end, he did a tremendous job, he fulfilled the mission. Yamaha was more than happy with his performance and the whole Tech3 team was delighted,” said Poncharal.

Final testing for the MotoGP teams happens in Qatar on March 1. The 2018 MotoGP World Championship season begins at the Losail Circuit in Qatar on March 16.