63Nineteenth at the season-opener in Qatar, Malaysian GP rider Muhammad Zulfahmi Khairuddin will be looking to redeem himself at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix; declaring Jerez will be a better hunting ground as compared to Losail International Circuit, which hosted the opening round two weeks ago.
“I would say Jerez will be a friendlier track for me,” said the 19-year old Air Asia SIC AJO Racing rider, adding that his mission would be to finish among the world championship points earner.
“Not to be overly ambitious; but I will try my best to finish in the top 15,” said Zulfahmi, who had openly declared that finishing 19th in Qatar was not a result that he was looking for to kick off his second season at the MotoGP 125 World Championship.
In his rookie season last year, Zulfahmi, who was supported by Italian-based Ongetta I.S.P.A. Racing Team, finished the year with four world championship points through four 15th placing at Catalunya, Sachsenring, Brno and Estoril at the Portuguese Grand Prix.
“This season looks better … I adjusting well with my new team. We have a lot of changes in my riding style … so, basically, Qatar was part of my adjustment curve. I am happy to say that I am a better rider now, thanks to the support of the Ajo team.
“Jerez should be better than Qatar,” added Zulfahmi, who finished 20th at last year’s race in Jerez despite crashing heavily while qualifying.
In the overall battle for top honours at the Spanish Grand Prix, all eyes would focus on the performance of Bankia Aspar rider, Nico Terol, who practically ruled all sessions at the opening race in Qatar including recording a runaway win over his rivals.
MotoGP official website www.motogp.com reported that Jerez de la Frontera signals the start of the European rounds of 2011 this weekend, and Spanish rider Terol will aim to build on a formidably strong start to the season on home soil following a dominant win in Qatar.
The Bankia Aspar rider took victory in the first race of the 125 season by more than seven seconds at Losail, further underlining his status as title favourite this year. Last year he finished second in the race at Jerez and will now aim to go one better, and Terol is the only rider from last season’s Jerez race top five who remains in the 125 class this season.
Sandro Cortese (Intact Racing Team Germany) and Sergio Gadea (PEV-Blusens-SMX Paris Hilton) completed the podium in Qatar and will hope to reduce the substantial advantage Terol held throughout the weekend, whilst Efrén Vázquez (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo) and Jonas Folger (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) both scored top-five finishes and will target further progress following their promising starts to the campaign.
Héctor Faubel (Bankia Aspar) will seek an immediate response following his Qatar result, having finished 11th, and the Spaniard will be well aware of the importance of not letting team-mate and rival Terol open up too great an advantage in the early rounds.
Rookies Maverick Viñales (PEV-Blusens-SMX Paris Hilton) and Miguel Oliveira (Team Andalucía Banca Cívica) impressed with top-ten finishes at Losail, and the young talents will be supplemented in Round 2 by wild card entries Josep Rodrigues (Wild Wolf – RACC), Daniel Ruiz (Larresport) and Kevin Hanus (Team Hanusch).
The Mahindra Racing team made an encouraging World Championship bow in Qatar with riders Danny Webb and Marcel Schrötter, and will arrive at Jerez – where the category completed its final pre-season Test at the start of March – confident of making further advances.