ZULFAHMI Khairuddin, Malaysia’s first ever Supersport World Championship rider, says strength and fitness are his priorities following a two-day test in Jerez, Spain recently (main pic).
Zulfahmi, who is Malaysia’s most decorated Moto3 (250cc) world championship rider says the 600cc Supersport machines are a big step up in weight and he found it was a handful controlling his Orelac Racing team’s Kawasaki ZX6R machine.
“I clearly need to work on my physical fitness and strength because of the weight of the bike. It is much heavier and I could feel the impact after seven laps. I will continue to work on my physical fitness when I return to Malaysia, so that I will be more ready at the second test in Australia,” Zulfahmi said.
“Overall, I am happy with the two-day tests. We had some problems with the bike on Day 1 and we could not do as many laps as we wanted. Day 2 was better and we managed to do more laps. There is still plenty that we need to work on to improve, in terms of the bike as well as my riding style. We can only get better from here,” he added.
“I am very happy with the team and we have been working very well together. The team crew has a lot of experience in Supersports and I am very keen to learn from them.
“My lap time has continued to improve with every lap. We are still about two seconds behind the fastest rider, but it is early days for me and the team is very happy with my progress. We are confident that we can go much faster with more tests and more time on the bike,” Zulfahmi shared.
Zulfahmi is partnering Nacho Calero in the Orelac Racing Team, which participated in the World Supersport Championship and the EU Superstock last year.
The Spanish-based team is owned by Jose Calero and managed by Giulio Bardi. Based in Algemesi near Valencia in Spain, the team is guided by crew chief Toni Alfonsea with Andy Machin as Zulfahmi’s chief mechanic, while Nacho has Luis Gallego as his chief mechanic.
Meanwhile, Australian Lachlan Epis will become the youngest ever rider to compete in world supersport full-time when the 2016 championship gets underway at Phillip Island this February 26-28.
Epis, who turned 16 on December 22 and hails from Sydney, will eclipse the previous benchmark held by Frenchman Maxime Berger, who was about sixth months older (16 years and eight months) when he made his WorldSSP full-time debut way back in 2006 – when Epis was aged six.
Epis’ competed in the 2015 Superstock 600 European Championship. His world supersport effort is backed by an all-Australian team.
“It’s totally bold, crazy, ambitious and risky, but riding my Kawasaki ZX-6R with an Australian team with the knowledge I can learn and have time to become competitive at the front is a dream come true. As is the case with all young sportspeople I couldn’t do it without the huge support of my family.”
Epis’ background, like so many Aussie road racers, is dirt track, and he predominantly plied his trade at the Nepean Raceway in Sydney before moving to the junior road racing ranks with MRRDA in 2013. Over the next two seasons he was second and first in the 150cc four-stroke class, and in 2014 also finished runner-up in the Moto3 title.
Lachlan’s 2016 ZX-6R will have race-spec engines through the support of Kawasaki Europe. The team will have them in time for the final WorldSBK and WorldSSP pre-season test at Phillip Island on February 22-23, with round one getting underway just three days later.