Youngster Muhammad Syafiq Rasol sensationally claimed Malaysia’s first-ever victory in the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup (SAATC), a regional development programme for talented young motorcycle racers, at the Sepang International Circuit here today.
In today’s Round 8 of the nine-round inaugural championship, Syafiq gave the crowd much to cheer for when he was the first across the finish line. The 18-year-old Syafiq stunned the Japanese riders who have dominated the championship since it began earlier this year.
Favourites, championship leader Yuta Date, Kaito Toba and Ayumu Sasaki, who have all been winners in previous races, finally surrendered to the Malaysian who was in his element today. Syafiq had already showed signs of his rising intentions when he finished second in the last two rounds.
Held as a support race for the Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix, the SAATC has a grid of 22 riders from Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, China, Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia. Apart from Syafiq, there are six other Malaysians Shafiq Ezzariq (15-years), FakhrusyRostam (18-years), Nazrul Bahauddin (14-years), Ibrahim Norrodin (14-years), Adam Norrodin (16-years) and HelmiAzman (15-years).
Syafiq, who is from Batu Berendam, Melaka, challenged the leading duo from the start of the 13-lap contest. He followed Date and Toba and while the two were trying to outdo each other, the Malaysian stormed past them to victory. He completed the contest in 30 minutes 27.993 seconds with Toba coming in 0.071 seconds behind for second place. Date took third.
“I am very happy with the win. It was a very difficult race. I started well but made a slight mistake at the first corner and dropped to seventh placing. Then, I worked myself up the grid and finally joined Toba and Date at the front.
“I followed them closely and tried to find a way past them. At the last corner, both of them made a mistake as they pushed for the lead. I immediately took advantage of the situation to take the win,” said Syafiq.
Describing today’s win as the biggest and sweetest ever in his career, Syafiq hopes the win will be the start of many more/ “I hope to repeat this win in tomorrow’s final race of the season.”
With 25 championship points today, Syafiq took his total haul to 82 points and is out of the championship battle that will be decided tomorrow between Toba and Date, who has 139 and 137 points respectively.
Round 9 will be run at noon tomorrow.