25 October 2009
ELLY Idzlianizar Ilias and Muhd Zulfahmi Khairuddin exceeded expectations by improving their fastest lap times in the qualifying session for the 125cc class in the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit yesterday.
And a huge reward awaits them if they can go on and finish the race today.
The team’s main backer, AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, has promised them a brand new Aprilia bike each if they achieve the feat.
The 25-year-old Elly managed to shave off a second from the morning free practice time of 2:18.795 to 2:17.952.
That saw him earning 25th spot on the grid of 33 riders.
Elly said that yesterday’s ride was all about giving their best and gaining experience along the way.
“The objective was to clock 2:18 today but I managed 2:17. I am very happy with the result but the time can be improved on and I plan to do it in the final race,” said Elly, who is the lead rider in the AirAsia Team Malaysia.
“I am prepared for it because I’ve learned a lot from practising with the best 125cc riders for the past two days. All that’s needed now is to fine fine-tune the strategies.”
Elly expects the race today to be an intense affair.
“The riders will go all out, especially in the final five laps. I have worked hard for this moment and I don’t intend to let down fellow Malaysians who have given us endless support and encouragement,” said Elly.
Zulfahmi, riding a Yamaha TZ125 bike, also made progress yesterday – taking three seconds off his time from Friday’s practice of 2:22.194 to 2:19.655 in lap 14.
The 18-year-old, who will start in 30th spot on the grid, was thrilled with the result.
Ongetta I.S.P.A. team manager Fiorenzo Caponera and Dunlop International Motorsport manager Jeremy Ferguson, who have been working hand-in-hand with the Malaysian team, were also proud with Elly and Fahmi’s performances, commending the duo’s ability to prepare themselves for the race within five months “when it takes other 125cc riders years to do so”.