Malaysia’s teenage sensation Khairul Idham Pawi, or SuperKIP amongst friends and rivals, may not have won the Moto3 Rookie title for 2016. But, his sensational achievement to score two wins last season has made the Malaysian a force to be reckoned with on the circuit.
The 2016 Moto3 Rookie title was won by Spain’s Joan Mir of Leopard Racing, who was closely challenged until the wire at the final round in Valencia by Italians Fabio di Giannantonio and Nicolo Bulega. Though never in contention for the coveted title, SuperKIP’s double victory in Argentina and Germany, however, was enough to convince his Honda Asia Racing Team to promote the young Malaysian to Moto2.
Never has Malaysia, which has hosted the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix since 1991 during the days of the legendary Americans Wayne Rainey and Kevin Schwantz ruling the track, had its rider at the top of the podium at the GP World Championship. SuperKIP changed all that in Round 2 of 2016 season on a wet Argentinian track; surprising even his ardent Malaysian fans. He then proved that it was no fluke by winning the German Grand Prix and being always among the top riders on wet tracks.
Scoring what was regarded as a near impossible mission being only in his second race, SuperKIP secured front and back page coverage of the leading national dailies as the popularity of MotoGP in Malaysia increased by several notches; proven by the sold-out crowd for the 2016 Shell Malaysia Grand Prix in late October at Sepang.
Before SuperKIP, the closest to the highest step of the podium was second place that was recorded in 2012 at the home race in Sepang by Muhammad Zulfahmi Khairuddin of the SIC Air Asia Racing Team, who had switched to the World Supersport Championship last season after struggling in his sixth year in Moto3 in 2015.
The other Malaysian rider to score third place in a GP is Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah who is currently in the Top 10 bracket for Moto2. His sensational result, however, was only earned much later after the third-placed winner for the 2012 Moto2 race in Sepang was disqualified. Fondly referred to as Pescao or HaFISH due to his prowess on the wet track, he was consistently strong this season; though was never quick enough to score a podium finish throughout the 18-leg world championship.
Young talents in motorcycling are simply in abundance in Malaysia as reflected in the 2016 Malaysian Cub Prix Championship as young riders rule the competition. All categories have teenagers crowned as the Kings for 2016 with youngster Kasma Daniel Kasmayudin following up his sensational CP115 championship win in 2015 by winning the premier CP130 overall title this season.
2017 looks set to be more superb.