The fans packing the Sepang International Circuit on Sunday for the Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix. Pic by

KUALA LUMPUR: The Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix roared to another milestone with attendance for yesterday's race breaching the 100,000 mark for the first time.

Despite the race being brought forward by two hours due to concerns over heavy rain, a total of 103,984 fans turned up at Sepang.

Last year, 97,457 fans were present on race day, which was also a record at the time.

Figures for the Friday practice went up to 24,476 (2017 - 22,794) though Saturday's qualifying saw a dip to 41,367 (2017 - 46,235) due to a downpour.

Over three days, a total of 169,827 fans came to watch the event at Sepang, a positive improvement over 2017 (166,484) and 2016 (161,533).

Sepang International Circuit (SIC) chief executive officer Datuk Razlan Razali said he could not have asked for more.

"What can I say? We did not expect to see more than 100,000 coming for the race,” said Razlan.

"In earlier years we had only targeted 85,000, then 90,000, then 95,000, so to reach 103,984 for Sunday is just awesome. This is thanks to the strong support we have from both local fans and abroad.

"As (Prime Minister) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said in the MotoGP programme, MotoGP is the flagship (motorsports) event for Malaysia, with Malaysian riders also competing in the series, and is something the government supports 100 per cent.

"The event has also opened the eyes of Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali and others who are now aware of how great an event it is. Previously they may have only known about Formula 1."

Razlan added that SIC will study whether to open another hill stand to accomodate the increasing demand for the event. SIC, this year, reopened their G hill stand, which can accommodate 10,000 fans, for the first time since 1999. 

In terms of Malaysian riders’ performances, Razlan said he had mixed reviews.

"I was disappointed with Adam Norrodin's (Petronas Sprinta Racing) performance in qualifying and the mistake he did which caused him to start from the pit lane (due to penalty).

"But he did incredibly well in the race where he was up to seventh place at one point before he crashed. It is not easy to do that starting from the pit lane.

"Passionate riders like Adam push very hard, he gave it his best and I am very proud of him. You have to remember that he was injured and riding on painkillers.

"Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah also did not do well in qualifying, maybe he was distracted as there were too many people around him.

"But he, too, did a fantastic race, to finish 10th in MotoGP after starting from 23 is something amazing.”

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