SEPANG: The world's finest motorcycle riders will take to the Sepang Circuit for the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix which starts tomorrow.
And it will be a momentous occasion for the country as for the first time in history, a Malaysian rider - Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah - will also be competing in the MotoGP category at Sepang.
Hafizh, who unexpectedly made the move up to Monster Yamaha Tech3 this year, has already proven his participation in the pinnacle of two wheel motorsports has been more than just to make up the numbers.
He has notched two top-10 finishes in Argentina and Japan, a commendable achievement for a newcomer to the premier class, and is second in the rookie standings behind Italian Franco Morbidelli (Eg 0,0 Marc VDS).
The Ampang-born is aware of the expectations placed on him by the home crowd and is determined to deliver on Sunday.
"I am grateful for the support the fans have shown throughout this whole week and I am aware that this is a historic moment for Malaysian motorsports. It means a lot to me too," said Hafizh.
"I want to challenge myself this week. My goal is to finish in the top-10 any higher will be a bonus for me."
The 24-year-old earned a reputation as a wet-weather specialist during his four years in Moto2 but made it clear he has yet to fully test himself in the wet in MotoGP.
"We have not raced in fully wet conditions yet this year, Argentina was a partially wet race but we were still able to use slicks," added Hafizh.
"It rained heavily at Silverstone but the race was cancelled so I do not have much experience in the wet in MotoGP.
"I will have to learn fast if it is a wet race here and hopefully achieve a surprise."
His wet weather prowess saw him being nicknamed 'El Pescao' during his Moto2 days, which means fish in Spanish.
Hafizh, whose Yamaha YZR-M1 has received minor aerodynamic updates for Sepang, is currently 18th in the overall MotoGP standings with 34 points.
His future for next season is already secure as he will remain with Tech3 for a second season. The team will, however, switch from Yamaha to KTM machinery next year.