Razlan Razali and Johan Stigefelt, respectively the team manager and team director of the Petronas Sepang Racing Team, have talked about the 2020 season during an official interview for the MotoGP site.
2020 has been conditioned by Covid-19, the world championship season far from easy to organise: "It was very difficult with the uncertainty of when the season would start. Fortunately the season went ahead in July and it went well. We really appreciate all the hard work that Dorna and IRTA have done this year in working with the various countries and authorities to make the season happen, it couldn’t have been done without them”.
Unexpected MotoGP results with Morbidelli
The Petronas team competed across all categories, starting with the MotoGP where it finished second in the riders’ standings with Franco Morbidelli. “It has been a rollercoaster, just like Portimão!” jokes Razali. “We started off this year coming off the back of a great first season in 2019 where we achieved a number of pole positions and a couple of podiums, which was already beyond our expectations. Our approach this year was to try and get that first win and to be the first satellite Yamaha team to do in about 20 years. We wanted to achieve that for the fans, who couldn’t be at the races, for the team and of course for Yamaha. Even better than that, Fabio Quartararo won back-to-back races in Jerez!”
From there the Frenchman’s season got more difficult: “We found ourselves slipping backwards until Franco Morbidelli claimed his first podium in Brno and Fabio came back with a win In Barcelona. After that we had mixed fortunes with Fabio struggling while Franky became more consistent, taking podiums and wins. Franco coming second in the world championship completely beat our expectations and was something we didn’t expect”.
Moto3, a year of highs and lows
Stigefelt then looks back at performance across the other categories, Moto3 in particular: "John McPhee was immediately quick from the start; he was very fast in testing and then in Qatar he was challenging for the win. He took second there and then coming into Jerez after lockdown he was incredibly fast again, very aggressive and did really well. We expected a very good season with him, but then we experienced the lows with John in the last five or six races, we lost some points. With Khairul Idham Pawi it was very difficult this year as he never really picked up the understanding of Moto3 and it was hard to see. I feel for him because I have been in that situation as a rider and it’s not easy”. Stigefelt refers to Pawi’s recent decision to retire, a result of the difficulties he experienced during 2020.
What to expect from 2021? “I think in MotoGP we will continue to target high results - podiums - and I hope we can help Franky to be even better”, continues Stigefelt. “With Valentino coming on board it will be an amazing feeling, a different feeling, because he’s coming from a factory team. It was a long time ago that he was last riding for a satellite team, so we will support him and hope to make him feel comfortable. I think if we do that then he will be very fast. We have very strong riders in Moto2 and Moto3 next year and my expectations are very high there”.
2021 will see the arrival of Valentino Rossi
Razali is on the same wavelength: “I am confident that Franky will continue his good form in MotoGP next year and I think he could be one of the contenders for the 2021 world championship. Nobody should underestimate him, as we have seen that he was a contender this year. It will be a very different atmosphere here for Valentino Rossi as we are a real family and one team across all three categories, where we support one another completely. I hope to learn a lot from him and at the same time I’m sure he can learn things from us as well. Therefore I think next year will be extremely exciting”.
Translated by Heather Watson