KTM feels like a 'real prototype' – Hafizh Syahrin

Tech3 MotoGP rider Hafizh Syahrin says the KTM he will race in 2019 feels like a “real prototype” compared to the Yamaha he rode last year. 

Syahrin became Malaysia's first premier class rider in 2018 when he was chosen to replace the sidelined Jonas Folger at Tech3, and went on to finish second-best rookie in 16th overall. 

He was retained by Herve Poncheral's squad for 2019, which will become a factory-supported KTM  customer after severing a 20-year partnership with Yamaha. 

Comparing the M1 and the RC16 during the Valencia test, Syahrin says the bike is “totally different” to the “easy for beginners” Yamaha in most areas.

I think top speed is quite similar, but the power from the bottom to the mid-range I feel the bike is quite powerful, and also the first touch you feel the power,” he said.

“So it's good, but I need to get used to this direction. Step-by-step I understand the bike, the electronics. 

“It's totally different from the Yamaha, also the team is new to these things as well as me, so we are working hard to understand everything. 

“For this bike, it's first time for me and feels like a real prototype. Yamaha is a good bike also, but is more easy for a beginner rider to understand this bike. 

“The KTM is also a good bike, but I feel more stiffness in the frame. I like the position on the brake but it takes time to understand the situation on the bike.” 

Building on these comments, Syahrin admits the KTM is “a bit more physical” compared to the Yamaha.

“For sure this bike I try in the first run [in Valencia] it felt quite easy to turn in the small corners and quite a lot of power, and this is quite different from the Yamaha. 

“I'd like to work on this and try to understand what riding I need to use. Looks like the bike is a bit more difficult, more physical for me. 

“I think we need to keep working hard on myself for next year in the winter tests in Sepang, and we have to try to improve everything to be ready for the start of the season in Qatar.”

Syahrin and new teammate Miguel Oliveira finished both the Valencia and Jerez tests at the bottom of the timesheets and over two seconds off the pace.