DESPITE Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team (SRT) failing to achieve a first win in MotoGP at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix on Sunday, there is still much to look forward to for them.
The fledgling outfit secured the Top Independent Team title at Sepang after earlier in the season bagging the Rookie of the Year title through Fabio Quartararo.
They are still on track to snagging a third title — Top Independent Rider, on the exploits of Quartararo at the season-ending Valencia race in a fortnight.
SRT team principal Datuk Razlan Razali said their strong performances this season may have led people to forget that they are only in their first year in the premier class.
Notably, Quartararo had taken pole position in qualifying while Franco Morbidelli was third on the grid. Franco and Fabio, however, placed sixth and seventh in the race the next day.
Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah of Red Bull KTM Tech3 had placed 16th from 17 finishers in the race.
“We were hoping to score at least one podium after qualifying 1-3 but in reality, finishing sixth and seventh at our home GP is actually a proud achievement,” said Razlan.
“Maybe (expectations rose) because we have managed a lot of podium finishes this year (through Quartararo).
“But we did secure the Top Independent Team title here and we already have the Rookie of the Year title. I am happy that we have achieved two of the targets that Petronas had set for us.
“We still have the Top Independent Rider title left and we have a chance of winning it too.
“Jack Miller has to win in Valencia and hopes that Fabio doesn’t finish, that is the math behind it.”
According to Razlan, improving the team's race pace to match their strong qualifying performances will be important going forward.
“I was told that Fabio had some tyre pressure issues (during the race) which is why he was not able to make a good start to the race. This caused his tyre to overheat.
“There have been races where we have not been able to have good race pace and this is something we need to investigate.”
Fabio and Franco, who are currently sixth (172 points) and 10th (115 points) in the overall riders standings, will both remain with the team for next season.
Razlan disclosed that Petronas Sprinta Racing’s Moto3 rider Ayumu Sasaki suffered a broken hand after his crash on Sunday and could be replaced by Khairul Idham Pawi for the Valencia. round.
Khairul Idham, who has spent much of the season on the sidelines himself due to injury, however, must pass a fitness test.