Home WTCR wildcards Cheah and Syahrin impress in Malaysia
Hafizh Syahrin finished in a points-paying P15 as Mitchell Cheah fought the effects of a fever to land two top-20 finishes in their home rounds of the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO last Sunday.
Although MotoGP racer Syahrin’s wildcard status made him ineligible for points, his performance exceeded his pre-race target of finishing P20 in his Hyundai Team Engstler-entered i30 N TCR and underlined an impressive transition from two wheels to four.
Syahrin, who was also entered for the FIM Endurance World Championship-counting Sepang 8 Hours on Saturday, said: “ I was P20, which was my target. Then I was 19 and, suddenly at the end, they said I was P16, which was amazing. I did not expect this result.”
A time penalty for Gabriele Tarquini meant Syahrin was elevated to P15 in the final Race 3 order. “For sure I am very happy to be racing here and to have this opportunity with Team Engstler, Sepang International Circuit, Hyundai and my sponsor Red Bull,” Syahrin said.
Cheah, who partnered Syahrin at Hyundai Team Engstler, scored a best result of P16 in Race 2. He said. “A slight fever [was] making me a bit weak but when I was in the car before Race 1 I just forgot about the pain and drove. In Race 1 it was a good recovery because at the start I was a bit slow trying to adapt in full slick tyres in the wet. I think at the start we dropped to P28 but came back to P19.
“It was a good result [in Race 2], I finished 16th from 28th, and I can be happy. On the first formation we decided to pit in early to change to full wet tyres. My aim was to gain places throughout the entire race, we had a lot of fights and the race was eventful. It could have been more but we are happy with this result.
“I was happy with the day as a whole as we did not make any mistake, except for Race 3 when I tried to overtake a car and spun at the last corner losing 10-15 seconds. Even though it was his first time in the car, Hafizh was very impressive and surprising everyone. He can definitely be happy with his result.”
Douglas Khoo, who completed the list of Malaysian wildcards in action at the Sepang International Circuit, scored a weekend-best of P21 in Race 3.
Cheah (left) and Syahrin are pictured taking part in the autograph session at the Sepang International Circuit on Sunday