Young Malaysian motorsports athletes are gathering s peed around the world.
WHILE many watched the live television broadcast of the Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Suzuka circuit in Japan last Sunday, thousands of others thronged the Sepang Circuit in Selangor to support Malaysian rider Mohd Zulfahmi Khairuddin at the Petronas-Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix (MotoGP).
The 18-year-old Air AsiaSepang International Circuit team rider was impressive last weekend, and although he didn’t finish on the podium at his home race, he was happy to have given his fans and supporters an exciting show.
Fahmi, whose hometown of Banting is a mere 10-minute drive from the circuit, finished 16th out of 26 riders in the 125cc category, giving a consistent performance from start to finish. Red Bull Ajo Motorsport rider Marc Marquez from Spain took first place in the race.
Fahmi is the only Malaysian rider to have ever scored points in the history of MotoGP. He currently has three championship points from this season so far, with a few races left to go.
But Fahmi isn’t the only young Malaysian riding high in circuits around the world; other young local racers have also scorched tracks the globe over.
Nabil Jeffri of the Lotus Racing team recently became the youngest test driver in Formula 1 history, after making a name for himself in go-karting.
Meanwhile, early this year, former Formula BMW driver Jazeman Jaafar, 17, began his first season with British Formula 3 champions, Carlin.
Female racers can give their male counterparts a race for their money, too, as 17-year-old Natasha Seatter has proven. Natasha won all four races at the Petronas Formula Xperience (PFX) programme last year, landing her a spot on the Petronas Mofaz Racing team for the Formula BMW Pacific race series.
In 2008, she placed fourth at the Asian Karting Open Championship, and was named Rookie of the Year in the senior category at the race.
Former Malaysian Junior Karting champion Aaron Lim, too, has a stunning resume – he went from karting to Formula BMW Asia to Formula V6 Asia, and finally became an A1GP Team Malaysia driver last year.
Just a few weeks ago, four Malaysian secondary school students participating in the F1 in Schools Challenge World Finals in Singapore took home the Knockout Racing category top prize in the competition.
Team Raluca F1, made up of Haziq Asyraf Marzuki, Mohamed Hussein Haron, Danel Iman Che Khalib and Wan Faiq Amsyar Wan of Sekolah Datuk Abdul Razak in Negri Sembilan, went head-tohead with school teams from all over the world in the competition. The Schools Challenge aims at providing an exciting and challenging educational Formula One experience for youths aged nine to 19.
With so much activity going on in Malaysian motorsports, it is hard to not sit up and take notice of our promising young athletes. Fahmi and Nabil took some time out of their busy schedule to share their experiences and stories in the world of motorsports.
A few days before the MotoGP, Fahmi sat nervously in the office of AirAsia at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal in Sepang, looking back at the spectacular year he has had.
On the fast track: Young MotoGP rider Mohd Zulfahmi Khairuddin of team AirAsiaSIC is looking forward to a bright future in motorsports.
Looking ahead: Former go-karting prodigy Nabil Jeffri is the youngest person ever to make his debut as a test driver in the history of Formula 1 racing. Humble beginnings: Aaron Lim began his racing career as a go-kart racer. Currently, he is an A1GP team Malaysia driver. Making history: Young MotoGP rider Mohd Zulfahmi Khairuddin of team Air Asia-SIC is the first Malaysian to earn championship points in the MotoGP race.