The first ever Malaysian team in MotoGP, PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team, and the PETRONAS Sprinta Racing line-ups for Moto2 and Moto3, were officially presented today at the PETRONAS Twin Towers (Malaysia), with high hopes for a promising 2019 MotoGP season.
The PETRONAS Sepang Racing Team this afternoon presented their ambitious project for 2019 at the PETRONAS Twin Towers, unveiling the stunning new colour scheme that will adorn the team’s five riders and their machines across the three categories of the MotoGP World Championship this year. The new PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team riders in MotoGP – Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo – and their 2019 Yamaha YZR-M1 machines lined up alongside PETRONAS Sprinta Racing riders Khairul Idham Pawi (Moto2), Ayumu Sasaki and John McPhee (Moto3) were the stars of the ceremony. This historic moment in Malaysian motorsport took place in the Dewan Filharmonik PETRONAS Foyer.
This special occasion also served as a statement of intent from the team, who for the first time ever in Southeast Asia will have a presence in all three categories of Grand Prix motorcycle racing – MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3. Indeed, it was an unforgettable day for the whole of the PETRONAS Sepang Racing Team and the country in general – demonstrated by the presence of some of Malaysia’s dignitaries – as well as the many partners who have made this dream a reality.
The headline news of the event was the official unveiling of the PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team line-up in MotoGP, which will feature 2018 Rookie of the Year Franco Morbidelli and the man who will look to relieve him of the title, Fabio Quartararo, who makes the step up from Moto2. The team will be Yamaha’s only satellite representation on the grid, receiving top level material and factory support thanks to the magnificent working relationship between the team and Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd.
In the intermediate category, the PETRONAS Sprinta Racing outfit heads into its second season with a new face on board – Malaysia’s two-time Grand Prix winner Khairul Idham Pawi. Meanwhile in Moto3, Ayumu Sasaki welcomes a new team-mate in John McPhee, forming a new pairing ready to fight for the positions of honour at the front of the pack.
The first track appearance for the new-look PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team will take place from 6th – 8th February at the first Official MotoGP Test of 2019 in the Sepang International Circuit. Later, from the 11th-13th February, the PETRONAS Sprinta Racing Moto2 and Moto3 teams will take part in a private test at the same track.
Razlan Razali – PETRONAS Sepang Racing Team, Team Principal, and Sepang International Circuit CEO
“The launch of the team marks our intention as a serious contender in the new 2019 MotoGP season. It has been an unbelievable journey so far and the excitement continues. This launch is for all Malaysian fans whom have been supporting Malaysian MotoGP since 1991. We have come a long way and evolved to this point because of the success of Malaysia MotoGP. The journey so far marked the hard work of the team, PETRONAS and Yamaha. We worked tirelessly to get everything ready for today and for the first test at theSepang International Circuit in February. We know there’s a lot more work ahead but today, let’s enjoy this team presentation and be proud to what we have achieved so far.”
Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin – PETRONAS President and Group Chief Executive Officer
“PETRONAS’ involvement in motorsports has spanned decades through our entry in Formula One and MotoGP. This partnership marks PETRONAS’ presence in the whole spectrum of motorcycle racing, from the grassroots level in Cub Prix right up to the international races of MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 further enhancing our global branding and technology partnership, particularly in the field of fuel and lubricants. Through PETRONAS’ Fluid Technology Solutions, we aim to significantly contribute to the teams’ performance by developing and testing customised product formulations to further boost its competitive edge.”
Johan Stigefelt – PETRONAS Sepang Racing Team, Team Director
“I am really happy to be able to present the team and riders today alongside PETRONAS, and it is a great feeling to show everybody our new colours. I am proud that the riders in all three categories will have the same look, which was the objective for us – that everybody sees us as a united structure. I also want to take the opportunity to thank all of the partners who have made it possible for this project to move forward.
We will be back to work on track very soon, at our home circuit, the Sepang International Circuit. We will start with the MotoGP riders, who will be able to enjoy their new bikes and new material from Yamaha. We have planned an extensive programme of tests, even though the riders already have a little experience on the Yamaha. The conditions will be demanding at Sepang and we have a lot of work to do, so it will be a big challenge for Franco [Morbidelli] and Fabio [Quartararo].
In Moto2 and Moto3 we have planned three days of tests, with new parts to try for the latter and a new bike in the intermediate class. We had a good test at the end of last year with the three riders so we just need to keep working and preparing for the first official test at Jerez at the end of February.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team, Team Manager
“It has been a real privilege for us to present the team here at the incredible PETRONAS Twin Towers and display our bikes with the definitive liveries for 2019. I am very proud of the look of the project and the work we have done over the last couple of months. The team is incredible and we are all very much looking forward to starting the first test in Malaysia. Our objective for the test will be to pick up where we left off at Jerez – we have new bikes for the riders and we are hoping they can build on the knowledge they acquired in November. After the winter break the first thing will be to get used to the Yamaha and its speed again, and to continue improving the feeling with the bike. We will also have to make a lot of technical adjustments, taking into account the fact that it will be three tough days because of the heat and with eight hours of available track time. We are very excited to get started and begin our preparations for the first race of the new season in Qatar.”
#21 Franco Morbidelli – PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team MotoGP Rider
“This is my second team presentation as a MotoGP rider and my first with this ambitious team. To be honest it has been really impressive, everybody is very excited and committed to the team. I came to KLCC before but it never fails to impress. To make the presentation here, to see the colours on my Yamaha for the first time and to enjoy the moment with the people of Malaysia has been fantastic. This is a great day for PETRONAS Yamaha SRT! I love how the bike has turned out and the whole look with the leathers and helmet. I am looking forward to debuting it next week in the first test at the Sepang International Circuit. We all have a lot of work ahead so I am looking forward to getting back on the bike and joining up with the team to continue our progress and preparation for the start of the season in Qatar.”
#20 Fabio Quartararo – PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team MotoGP Rider
“I am very excited to have unveiled the new design of the bike and to have presented the whole team here at home, in Malaysia. I love it! Now I am really excited to get back on the bike at the Sepang International Circuit in the three-day test we have ahead. I am happy to be starting the new season there because it is one of my favourite tracks. We will try to give our best to learn as much as possible. We have six days of tests before the first race in Qatar, so I will do everything possible to be ready for the opening Grand Prix. The goal for any rider moving up from Moto2 is to become Rookie of the Year, so we will work hard to achieve it.”
#89 Khairul Idham Pawi – PETRONAS Sprinta Racing Moto2 Rider
“It has been a dream presentation; for me it is something incredible to unveil the team’s new colours in Kuala Lumpur, my home, because I have never done anything like this here before. To see so many people together at the PETRONAS Twin Towers was very exciting. I love the new bike that the team have put together for the 2019 season and I am very much looking forward to getting back into action soon.”
#71 Ayumu Sasaki – PETRONAS Sprinta Racing Moto3 Rider
“It was an incredible day. It was very nice to have all five of the team’s riders here – it has been very exciting. I also love how the bikes look, so now I want to see what they’re like on track! I am very keen to get back on the bike, meet up again with my technical staff and complete some laps at the Sepang International Circuit. I hope to understand the bike as soon as possible and come back to my riding style after almost three months without riding. I’m really looking forward to Sepang and also the Jerez Test. Our target for this season will be really high. McPhee will be the best team-mate I can ask for and together we will try to be as fast as possible and fight for the podium when we can.”
#17 John McPhee – PETRONAS Sprinta Racing Moto3 Rider
“What an amazing day here in Kuala Lumpur! To have the PETRONAS Sepang Racing Team launch at the PETRONAS Twin Towers was something special. The new livery looks great and now I’m really excited to get the season underway. Now we head to the Sepang International Circuit to start our new season. My aim is to make the most of the next three days to kick off our season in our best possible way. We’ve got an exciting year ahead with lots to look forward to.”