KUALA LUMPUR: MotoGP rookie Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah and teammate Johann Zarco will use the same 2016 Yamaha chassis as big guns Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales for this season.
After weeks of speculation, Monster Yamaha Tech3 have finally confirmed that they will continue to use the 2016 Yamaha chassis this season.
Team principal Herve Poncharal said he believes the 2016 YZR-M1 is perfect for Hafizh.
"This year, the four riders, Valentino Rossi, Maverick Vinales, Hafizh Syahrin and Johann Zarco will use the same 2016 chassis but with different bodywork, aerodynamics and different engine," Poncharal told NSTP Sports today.
"This is the same chassis that Zarco and Jonas Folger rode last year, I think this is the best package you can get for a rookie and it is more than enough for Hafizh.
"We know this package very well, we have all the data from the 2017 season, so we can work on that. I think this will be a tremendous help for Hafizh in his rookie season this year. He feels good and confident on it."
Hafizh had tested using the 2017 chassis, which is known to be less competitive than the 2016 version, over three days of testing at Buriram but changed to the 2016 chassis at the recent test at Qatar.
The 23-year-old said he is happy with the team's decision to go with the older chassis.
"I changed to the 2016 chassis from the second day in Qatar (testing) and it is definitely better," said Hafizh today.
"It is much more responsive and agile, which makes it better in the corners and allows for better braking. I am more comfortable and feel more confident with it."
Hafizh exceeded all expectations during testing in Qatar where he placed 16th (three days combined) and was the second fastest rookie after Franco Morbidelli.
Tech3 signed Hafizh as a last minute replacement for Jonas Folger who has been forced to sit out the whole season due to illness. He is the first rider from Southeast Asia to compete in MotoGP.
The opening race of the season will be held at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar on March 16-18.