YAMAHA EWC TEAMS READY FOR SWELTERING SEPANG SHOWDOWN
The Yamaha Sepang Racing Team will field a strong rider line up in the inaugural 8 Hours of Sepang EWC race in Malaysia, with MotoGP stars Franco Morbidelli and Hafizh Syahrin racing alongside Yamaha WorldSBK rider Michael van der Mark aboard the #21 Yamaha R1. While van der Mark and Syahrin have prior endurance racing experience, both have contested the Suzuka 8 Hours previously and the Dutch WorldSBK rider is a four-time winner of the prestigious race, Morbidelli will be making his FIM EWC debut this weekend. While the race format may be new to the Italian, the bike he’ll share with his two teammates will at least feel familiar, as Morbidelli regularly rides a Yamaha R1 on track as part of his training program for MotoGP races.
Michael van der Mark – Yamaha Sepang Racing Team: “It will be good to be back on the Yamaha R1 for another eight-hour endurance race, as Suzuka seems so long ago now. I’ll be part of a strong rider line up in the Sepang Yamaha Team, racing alongside MotoGP riders Franco Morbidelli and Hafizh Syahrin. Hafizh has some endurance experience, having also raced at Suzuka, while Franco knows the Yamaha R1 as he regular rides on as part of his training program. It’s going to be hot and it’s going to be tough, but that’s what I like about endurance racing. I’m sure all three of us will enjoy it and I’m equally certain we all head to Sepang with the goal of winning the race in front of the team’s home crowd.”
Franco Morbidelli – Yamaha Sepang Racing Team: “I’m really looking forward to getting the Sepang weekend started. I’ve never done an endurance race before, so this will be a completely new experience for me. I already met the team and I think it’s going to be good working with them, as they have a lot of endurance experience. I also sat on the bike for the first time and it looks awesome. Tomorrow we take to the track for the first time and I’m eager to see what my first EWC race weekend will bring.”
Hafizh Syahrin – Yamaha Sepang Racing Team: “I’m happy to be racing here at home, but I think the weather is going to make this first 8 hours of Sepang a tough test. It’s going to be hot and, even when you’re acclimatised to the heat, it still saps your energy on the bike. I’m looking forward to the first free practice tomorrow. It will be very different to MotoGP, as we have to share the Yamaha R1 between three riders, so I know already that the set-up will be a compromise rather than perfect for me, but that’s one of the things that we have to work around. Of course, we want to win, as do all the other teams, but we have a good package, a good rider line up and we’ll be pushing as hard as we can in the race. For me, it is great to be riding alongside Franco and Michael, as I’m sure we can learn a lot from each other. Thanks also to the Sepang International Circuit for making all this possible.”