The PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team is at Phillip Island in Australia for the first Superbike World Championship round of the season. Riders Hafizh Syahrin and Eric Granado took part in the first of the weekend’s races, with Syahrin finishing just inside the points zone, followed by his team-mate.
After a final practice this morning that ran in mixed conditions with a little rain, the riders were back out at 13.10 local time (CET+10) for the all-important Superpole. Not used to the frenetic format of the 15-minute Superpole, Granado’s best time was a 1’31.779 which put him in twentieth place at the session’s end. Syahrin closed in twenty-first place with a 1’32.098. This meant that the riders qualified on row seven of the grid for the season’s first race.
Race 1 began fifteen minutes late due to weather-related delays that affected the previous WorldSSP race. The Superbike race also began in full wet conditions. From row seven, Granado placed nineteenth though the first laps, followed immediately by team-mate Syahrin. The pair each made up a position in the early stages and made further progress in the second half of the race. Hafizh moved up into the points zone on lap sixteen, ultimately crossing the line in fifteenth place and scoring one championship point, followed by Eric, sixteenth.
“I’m happy to be honest as, although we are in a tricky situation right now, the team and I are working hard to improve our package. This was my first time in full wet conditions with this version of the bike, which differs from last year’s, and so it wasn’t easy. But we scored our first point of the season, so that’s a positive. We need to try and find something to improve our pace a little tomorrow, but it depends on what the weather does – if it is wet again, then I think we can take another step. Thanks to everyone supporting me and to all my Malaysian fans who have come here to watch.”
“Today went much better than yesterday, particularly this morning when we took a good step forward in terms of my feeling with the bike. I was much quicker in the dry and was happy with what we did in FP3 and Superpole. The race was a whole different world, as it was fully wet and I have no experience of the bike and electronics in those conditions of course. Visibility was terrible throughout and it was hard to manage the situation, particularly in the last eight laps which were definitely challenging. The important thing was to stay upright and finish the race and we did that, so I can be satisfied with my race and P16. Now we’ll focus on preparing for tomorrow’s races, come rain or shine.”