KUALA LUMPUR, April 4 — Khairul Idham Pawi created history by becoming the first Malaysian rider to win the MotoGP World Championship in the Moto3 race category at the Argentina Motorcycle Grand Prix early today.
The 17-year-old Honda Team Asia rider clocked 41 minutes and 35.452 seconds in the 21-lap race at the Termas de Rio Hondo Circuit in Argentina.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi congratulated Khairul on his victory.
"Congratulations, Khairul Idham Pawi for winning #motoGP3 at Argentina! Thank you for bringing glory to the country," he said on twitter
Spaniard Jorge Navarro of Estrella Galicia 0, 0 Honda and South African rider Brad Binder of Red Bull KTM Ajo came in second and third after posting 42'1.622 seconds and 42'5.512 seconds, respectively.
Another Malaysian rider, Adam Norrodin of Drive M7 SIC Racing Team, showcased a remarkable fightback to finish in 11th place despite being involved in a crash on the final corner of the race.
Khairul, who had made his third appearance in a Moto3 race, was truly ecstatic with what he felt was an unexpected victory.
"Obviously, I am really happy and grateful to get this result today and it feels great to get my first win. The setup of my bike was very good and it gave me a lot of confidence to push hard.
"I did not feel pressured. I just tried my best to keep my focus and maintain my lead," said Khairul Idham in a post-race interview.
The rookie rider clocked the fourth fastest lap in the qualifying session on Saturday but was demoted to seventh place in the starting grid after he was penalised by the race director for riding slowly in the first free practice session on Friday.
The victory sees Khairul Idham collecting 25 points, which puts him in fourth place while Adam Norrodin remained in 19th place with five points in the Moto3 standings after the second leg of the race.
Circuit Of The Americas in Central Texas, United States, will host the third leg of the race from April 8 to 10. — Bernama