Tech3: Syahrin 'big disappointment… we know his potential'

'We really need to see Hafizh showing some progress and improvement, plus reducing the gap to his team-mate' - Herve Poncharal, Tech3 KTM.
Tech3: Syahrin 'big disappointment… we know his potential'

Hafizh Syahrin's results at the start of his KTM MotoGP career make for miserable reading: Last in Qatar, second to last in Argentina, last again in Texas.

Adding to the pressure on the Malaysian's shoulders is that rookie Tech3 team-mate Miguel Oliveira has already scored seven points, including an eleventh place in Termas, where he finished in the wheeltracks of factory KTM's Pol Espargaro.

Syahrin is yet to approach the pace of his team-mate, finishing 26.9s behind Oliveira in Qatar, 9.7s in Argentina and 23.4s adrift in Texas. Oliveira has also comfortably outqualified Syahrin, the #55 starting second to last in all three rounds.

This time a year ago Syahrin had nine points to his name on Tech3's then Yamaha machinery, going on to finish the season with three tenth-places in four events and narrowly losing out to Franco Morbidelli in the Rookie of the Year battle.

By contrast, Syahrin finished almost 20-seconds behind next closest Joan Mir (17th place) at COTA.

"Hafizh was a big disappointment, as we know his potential," said team manager Herve Poncharal after the American race. "Sometimes he goes two seconds quicker than the previous lap or the previous practice, so he is very up and down and we don’t understand how you can have such a big difference of lap time.

"Still we were quite confident he could have a strong race but although the start was a lot better than Miguel’s he just faded lap after lap. I hate to be last, but he was last and this is not a good position.

"The gap was huge, at the end of the race, we could see that he had nobody in front of him and the motivation was going down.

"There is still some work to do for him to understand better how to ride the bike and to be more consistent because, more than the speed, he needs consistency.

"It’s still early days in the season, only round three, but we really need to see Hafizh showing some progress and improvement, plus reducing the gap to his team-mate."

Syahrin felt his Austin performance was influenced by tyre choice, although he ran the same medium front/soft rear as the other KTMs.

“I’m honestly a bit disappointed, because we tried a different choice of tyre, but it seems it was not the right selection. Right from the beginning of the race, I felt a huge drop, I couldn’t stop the bike well enough, so I was just fighting with it," Syahrin said.

"It was difficult to keep the pace and this took all my energy. I don’t know why this happened, but I hope we can come back in Jerez, the first race on European ground. I wish we find something there in order to have a good pace and close the gap to the front.”

While Syahrin's former team-mate Johann Zarco is pinning his hopes on new KTM parts at Jerez, Poncharal confirmed that Tech3 is also set to receive upgrades.

"Now we go back to Europe to a track [Jerez] we know. We will certainly get some upgrades from KTM and have a test after the Grand Prix on Monday, which all is very promising," Poncharal said.

Oliveira, 14th in America, is also looking forward to the first European round.

"Jerez is a track we like a lot. The bike looks like it’s performing well there, so we can’t wait," he said.

"We take many positives from this race, we learned and understood the bike more. My position on the bike needs to be a bit different, so we are working in this direction to make me feel more comfortable.”