Morbidelli joins van der Mark, Syahrin for Sepang 8 Hours
Petronas Yamaha MotoGP rider Franco Morbidelli will contest the inaugural running of Sepang 8 Hours in December this year alongside Michael van der Mark and Hafizh Syahrin.
Morbidelli will ride a Yamaha YZF-R1 for the Sepang Racing team, which has received backing from full-season Endurance World Championship squad YART for its home event.
He will be partnered by Syahrin, who will be reunited with a Yamaha after having ridden a Tech 3-run KTM in MotoGP this season, and Yamaha's World Superbike factory rider van der Mark.
“I’m curious to see how an endurance race format suits me, and I’m really looking forward to it,” said Morbidelli, who currently sits 10th in the MotoGP riders’ standings with a trio of fifth-place finishes to his name.
“It’s a different thing, it’s something nice, and when [team principal and Sepang CEO] Razlan [Razali] 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.”
Sepang 8 Hours is a new addition to the EWC calendar and will follow the same format as the Suzuka 8 Hours, with the grid order to be decided by a superpole-style shoot-out.
The race will begin under daylight and finish after nightfall, marking the debut of the Malaysian circuit’s new floodlights. It will also share a bill with the final round of the 2019 World Touring Car Cup season.
“We’re very excited to have a Sepang Racing Team entry in the first Sepang 8 Hours,” said Razali.
“There’s no better way to support Tourism Malaysia’s Visit 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.”
Honda "asked too much" from Takahashi in Suzuka 8 Hours
Rea defends Kawasaki after Razgatlioglu controversy