Feb 21 (Reuters) - Malaysia’s Hafizh Syahrin will race for the Tech3 Yamaha team in MotoGP this season as a replacement for unwell German rider Jonas Folger.
The team announced the Moto2 rider’s signing on Wednesday, with the 23-year-old to partner French rider Johann Zarco in the lineup and becoming his country’s first full-time MotoGP entrant.
“It’s been a tough time since we heard from Jonas Folger, that unfortunately he decided not to race in 2018 in order to look after his health and try to fully recover,” said team manager Herve Poncharal in a statement.
“It has been a long process to find somebody, who could be the one.
“In Sepang I met (the Malaysian circuit chief executive) Razlan Razali, we were just chatting and now and then you have crazy ideas, which are sometimes the ones that bring the best result.”
Syahrin has had three podium finishes in Moto2, with second place at last year’s San Marino Grand Prix his best result. He finished 10th overall in the championship and was set to continue in a team run by Razali.
He tested with the non-works Tech3 team in Thailand last week.
Razali hailed the signing as “the biggest announcement and achievement for a Malaysian rider after more than 26 years of Malaysia hosting MotoGP.
“It is also a fantastic news for the Asian region,” added the Malaysian.
“I must thank Herve Poncharal for this opportunity, his faith and confidence in Hafizh. We will now hand over Hafizh in his good care for him to be developed into a better, competitive and complete MotoGP rider.”
The season starts in Qatar on March 18. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Sudipto Ganguly)