Sepang: McPhee 'a fighter', 'still believe' in Norrodin

'What we like about John is that he's a hard-working guy. A fighter' - Sepang CEO Razlan Razali.
Sepang: McPhee 'a fighter', 'still believe' in Norrodin

Race winner John McPhee headlines a revised Sepang Moto3 line-up in 2019, the Scotsman replacing home rider Adam Norrodin on the Petronas-backed Hondas alongside Ayumu Sasaki.

"What we like about John is that he's a hard-working guy. He's a fighter," Sepang CEO Razlan Razali told

"Sometimes he came from the back and bulldozed his way through. Sometimes he's been unlucky in that he's crashed from a good position, so we did tell him 'try not to crash so much!' But third position at Valencia was a good ending to the season."

Upon being presented as a future Sepang rider at Silverstone last year, McPhee told that the chance to potentially move up the ranks into Moto2 and now MotoGP with the same team had clinched the deal.

Razali confirmed McPhee will have a future Moto2 seat if he meets the team's targets this year.

"I think 2019's very important for John," Razali said. "He's been in the championship for six full years and if he wins the title, or is top three, then he deserves to go to Moto2 with us the following year. That's the plan. So he needs to do that."

Sasaki has exactly the same opportunity, although the young Japanese currently has only two years of grand prix experience under his belt.

"Same thing for Ayumu. Ideally probably two more years, but I'm sure looking at the [Sepang MotoGP team] right now I think he wants to promote himself as quick as possible!" Razali said.

"So I told him, 'the quicker you win the championship or are top three in Moto3, the sooner you'll go to Moto2 and then this [MotoGP bike] could be yours one day.'"

But McPhee's arrival and Sasaki's new deal means there is no room for local rider Adam Norrodin, who spent three seasons with Sepang in GP with a best finish of fifth, having fallen from podium positions.

Razali revealed that, had the team been able to get a second Moto2 grid entry, Norrodin could have been team-mate to Khairul Idham Pawi in 2019.

Instead, Norrodin will continue to receive Sepang support in the CEV Moto2 class, ahead of a future grand prix return.

"Yes, it was difficult [to leave out Norrodin]," Razali confirmed. "At the same time, we have a title partner that is looking for performance and at that moment Adam's performance was not so great.

"Also, we were not able to get a second slot for Moto2, which spoilt a little bit of our plans.

"But we still believe in Adam for the future, so it's not the end of it.

"Instead we'll take him out and start grooming him for Moto2 in the CEV for at least one or two years so that when he comes back into Moto2 here, he should be at least mid-field to begin with. That's what we want."

The Petronas-backed Sepang team will hold its MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 team launch in Kuala Lumpur on January 28.

CLICK HERE to read the full exclusive interview with Razlan Razali…