SUBANG: It took some convincing but Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team principle Herve Poncharal is more than happy to get his man — Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah.
Poncharal, who had no doubts about signing Hafizh, admitted that it was a tough task convincing the team’s stakeholders that signing him as a replacement for Jonas Folger was the right move.
"It has been a long process to find somebody (to replace Folger), who could be the one?," said Poncharal, in a statement released today.
"In Sepang (winter test), I met Datuk Razlan Razali, we were just chatting and now and then you have crazy ideas (to sign Hafizh) which are sometimes the one which brings the best results.
"We had to convince all the people around us that Hafizh is going to be a good MotoGP rider. Therefore we had to give him a tough task during the three days of testing at Buriram.
"In the end he did a tremendous job (at Buriram), he fulfilled the mission. Yamaha was more than happy with his performance and the whole of Tech 3 was delighted."
Poncharal, whose team was arguably the strongest among the non-factory teams in MotoGP last season, added that Tech 3 will guide Hafizh and treat him as one of their own.
"I am very honoured and proud to give him this chance and I know this is going to be something historical because it is the first time a Malaysian is riding full season in MotoGP. We also know how popular the sport is in this part of the world," added Poncharal.
"I want to tell Hafizh : Welcome to our family! We will take care of you like our son and I am quite sure we can have a great season.
"You can learn from the team, from Johann (Zarco)...I can't wait to be in Qatar with you on your bike!"
Hafizh will be riding alongside Zarco on Tech 3's Yamaha YZR-M1's this season. Zarco was named MotoGP Rookie of the Year last season.