Sepang Racing Team announce 8 Hours of Sepang team
MotoGP racer Franco Morbidelli, Suzuka 8 Hour champion Michael van der Mark and Malaysian star Hafizh Syahrin join forces for inaugural endurance race
Sepang Racing Team will field an all-star line-up for the first ever 8 Hours of Sepang round of the FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC) on December 13-15, with MotoGP racer and former Moto2 World Champion Franco Morbidelli, Suzuka 8 Hour multiple winner Michael van der Mark and local superstar Hafizh Syahrin joining forces on Yamaha YZF-R1 machinery to take on the team’s home race.
Competing for the first time in an endurance race, but with the backing of former Endurance World Champions Yamaha Austria Racing Team (YART), the squad will be out for nothing less than glory at the first running of a world championship endurance battle under the brand-new state-of-the-art floodlights at the Sepang International Circuit.
Making his endurace debut, Franco Morbidelli’s record in the MotoGP World Championship with PETRONAS Yamaha SRT means there’s no doubting his speed. Already familiar with both the YZF-R1 bike and with the Sepang circuit, the Italian-Brazilian racer is excited to be able to try something new and to stay sharp during the MotoGP off-season.
Dutchman Michael van der Mark adds a huge wealth of experience to the team, not only as a Yamaha World Superbike race winner but also as one of the most successful racers in the history of the Suzuka 8 Hour. A four-time victor at one of motorsport’s most prestigious races, there’s no questioning his endurance know-how as he joins the squad.
Hafizh Syahrin is no stranger to the Sepang circuit either, hailing from Malaysia and a veteran of countless races in multiple classes at the track. Bringing some local knowledge and familiarity of riding in Sepang’s fierce heat and humidity, the move will also mark a change from his usual MotoGP machinery.
As well as hosting the FIM Endurance World Championship race, the event will also see the FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) take place alongside it in a ground-breaking fusion of the worlds of two-and-four-wheel motorsport under the headline, Races of Malaysia. Collaborating with Tourism Malaysia as part of their Visit Truly Asia Malaysia 2020 campaign, both events will harness the hashtag #RoadToMalaysia to support the initiative.
“I’m curious to see how an endurance race format suits me, and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a different thing, it’s something nice, and when Razlan asked me to do it I thought ‘sure, why not?’ The combination of Yamaha and Sepang Racing Team means it should be a strong package, and it’ll be nice to race with a production bike again. Riding bikes is always good for staying in shape, so it’s nice to be able to race in December. I’ve trained with a YZF-R1 before so I’ve got an idea of what to expect, but I’m sure the endurance superbike will be very different. I might make the most of the trip and use it to enjoy a holiday in Malaysia as well.”
Michael van der Mark
“When I first saw there would be an EWC round at Sepang in December I knew it would be cool to race it so I’m really proud that the team asked me - plus how can you say no to such a great team and race at their home track? Sepang is hot and humid and it will be really hard work - but that’s also the part of the challenge of endurance racing and I really enjoy it. I will do everything to help the team with the bit of endurance experience I have because we want to fight for the victory! We’ve got a really strong squad but we have to be smart and consistent, because for sure our goal will be to win the team’s home race!”
“I’m really looking forward to taking part in the first EWC race in Malaysia. It’s not my first endurance race as I’ve ridden at the Suzuka 8 Hour before, but it’ll be very different riding in front of our home fans! It’s a really good opportunity for me to test my physical endurance because it’ll be a very long and hot race, and the most important thing will be how we work as a team. We’ll try our best to do a good job, but we’ve got a great team and some very strong team-mates. I’m really excited to share a bike with Franky and Michael, because they’re good riders and Michael has a lot of experience with the Yamaha. I can’t wait to get going!”
“We’re very excited to have a Sepang Racing Team entry in the first 8 Hours of Sepang. There’s no better way to support Tourism Malaysia’s Visit Truly Asia Malaysia 2020 campaign than this event and our international line-up of riders competing in it. The weekend will be exceptional as it’s the EWC alongside the WTCR - with the worlds of two and four-wheel motorsport sharing the same track on the same weekend. These Races of Malaysia will provide an incredible spectacle of truly international appeal. We have faith that Franco, Michael, Hafizh and YART will deliver and we’re targeting the very top step of the podium.”