After impressing observers with his performance during testing in Thailand, first Malaysian MotoGP rider Hafizh Syahrin, better known to fans as “Pescao 55”, emerged second fastest rookie at the conclusion of the final MotoGP Winter Test at the Losail circuit in Qatar. Hafizh finished the test in fifteenth position overall with a time of 1’55.273, with fastest rookie Franco Morbidelli of EG 0,0 Marc VDS clocking 1’55.132.

Meanwhile, Hafizh’s Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team mate Johann Zarco was fastest after three days of testing, with a time of 1’54.029 with fan favourite Valentino Rossi of Movistar Yamaha in second with a time of 1’54.276 and Andrea Dovizioso of Ducati in third, clocking 1’54.331. Defending MotoGP champion Marc Marquez of Repsol Honda came in sixth with a time of 1’54.591.

However, it should be noted that the circuit lengths of Losail and Buriram, where Hafizh had his first ride on a MotoGP race machine and came in 21st, are vastly different. Losail measures 5.380 km while Buriram measures 4.554 km, making a direct comparison based on lap times unfair.

Thus, the best indicator of performance can be seen in the percentage of difference between Hafizh and Zarco’s lap times. At Buriram, Hafizh was just about 2% away from Zarco in lap time, but the deficit has now dropped to just over 1%, indicating a clear improvement in Hafizh’s ability to control the Yamaha YZR-M1, a motorcycle he rode for the first time about two weeks ago.

Other Malaysian riders in the MotoGP circus are Zulfahmi Khairuddin, who replaced Hafizh in SIC Racing Team, and Khairul Idham Pawi (#89), also known as “SuperKIP”, riding for Idemitsu Honda Team Asia, in Moto2, with Adam Norrodin (#7) of Petronas Sprinta Racing in Moto3. The 2018 MotoGP championship kicks off March 18 at the Losail circuit in Qatar.