NOV 1, 2010: The Halloween weekend was a triumphant outing for Malaysian MotoGP 125cc rider Mohd Zulfahmi Khairuddin as he collected another point for his performance at the bwin Grande Prémio de Portugal at Estoril on Sunday.
The young rider, who was determined in his quest to garner another point before the 2010 season had finished the race in the 15th position, finishing in 17 minutes, 43.311 seconds. The torrential downpour during the Portugal Grand Prix proved to be quite a challenging one for many riders, including the race organizers themselves with the original race being red-flagged. Persistent torrential rain at the bwin Grande Prémio de Portugal at Estoril led to the qualifying sessions for the MotoGP, Moto2 and 125cc categories being cancelled on Saturday.
With excessive standing water on the track surface, gusting winds and constant heavy rain, and after attempts to reschedule the qualifying programme, Race Direction was eventually forced to decide at 2.30pm local time to call off the qualifying sessions, meaning that the starting grids for each race will be based on the combined times from the three free practice sessions.
On race day, many riders had taken a tumble during the slippery tracks, which left them unable to go back into the race when it re-started. In the 125cc category, Team Ongetta’s Luca Marconi suffered a fractured left collarbone and an injury to the right shoulder also prevented Jasper Iwema (CBC Corse) from going back onto the track.
Other experienced riders such as Sandro Cortese (Avant Mitsubishi Ajo), Adrián Martín (Team Aeroport de Castelló), Danny Kent (Lambretta Reparto Corse), Louis Rossi (CBC Corse), Simone Grotzkyj (Fontana Racing) and Esteve Rabat (Blusens-STX) also fell victims to the slippery track.
Zulfahmi said “The track was very slippery and the wind was very strong so it was quite a challenge for me. When I saw that many other riders had fallen, I decided to adopt a more strategic approach. I am glad that my perseverance paid off.
“I am very happy to gain another point in the race, and I would like to thank the team for the great teamwork and the effort that they had put on the bike.”
Sepang International Circuit chief executive officer Datuk Razlan Razali said the young rider had learnt from his unforgettable experience in Phillip Island, where the conditions were more or less similar.
“Fahmi had made sure that he qualifies for the race at Estoril. This shows his maturity in approaching a race especially in such a difficult situation. He had overcome the round’s most difficult conditions that saw many experienced riders crashing. We are extremely proud of Fahmi’s achievement in securing this last point. We could not ask for more, Fahmi is still learning and with one more race to go in Valencia, this will boost his confidence of a good race come the final race this weekend.”
AirAsia Group CEO Datuk Sri Dr. Tony Fernandes said “Great job by Fahmi in attaining another championship point. I am so proud of him, as the race in Portugal was extremely difficult due to the uncompromising weather and very slippery conditions. It must be unnerving to race under those conditions, but Fahmi did not wither and kept his focus in finishing the race. Most importantly, he showed to us again and again that with utmost determination, nothing is impossible. Kudos to the team as well, for a great collective effort in making Team AirAsia-SIC a serious contender in the championship.”