KUALA LUMPUR: After achieving reasonable progress this year, Malaysia's world championship riders will have to prove themselves with better results next season having secured some strong backing for the coming season.
In what was his fourth full season in Moto2, Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah (Petronas Raceline) finally broke through and secured his first outright podium finishes at Misano (second place) and Motegi (third) this year.
Hafizh made headlines as a wildcard rider in 2012 after scoring a stunning fourth place finish (later promoted to third after Anthony West failed a dope test) at Sepang in Moto2 but had struggled to live up to the expectations until now.
The 23-year-old has been rumoured to have fallen out with the team management at Raceline this season but will not have to worry about that as he will move to the newly setup Petronas Sprinta Racing Moto2 team next year.
Sprinta, which will be funded by Petronas and managed by Sepang International Circuit (SIC), should be an exciting proposition for Hafizh with SIC promising a stronger bike, a more effective crew and a ticket to the premier class in 2019 should he perform well next year.
Moto3 wonderkid Khairul Idham Pawi endured a nightmare debut in Moto2, managing only two points finishes at Brno and Misano. Many had anticipated his move up to Moto2, after spending only one season in Moto3, as too drastic.
He will remain with Idemitsu Honda Team Asia next year though will have to prove himself if he is to keep his seat in 2019.
Hafizh finished the season in 10th place in the overall Moto2 standings with 106 points while Khairul settled for 27th with 10 points.
In Moto3, SIC Racing Team enjoyed a relatively fruitful season with improved performances from Adam Norrodin, who was outshone by Khairul last year, as well as Japan's Ayumu Sasaki who was named Moto3 Rookie of the Year.
SIC Racing Team will be rebranded as Petronas Sprinta Racing team next season with Adam and Ayumu, both being retained.
SIC team manager Johann Stigefelt will overlook both Sprinta's Moto2 and Moto3 teams next year and believes there is much to look forward to.
"We are all happy that Ayumu clinched the Rookie of The Year... this was always the target and we are all proud of him for achieving it," said Stigefelt.
"Adam has also made great progress this year. We have watched him become stronger and prove his ability to compete at the top end. We are really happy about this.
"We go into next year having made some big steps with both riders, so we are already excited to see what Adam and Ayumu can achieve in 2018."
Adam came in 17th in the overall Moto3 standings with 42 points, a substantial improvement over the 14 points he managed last season (28th), while Ayumu came in 20th on 32 points.