MOHD Zulfahmi Khairuddin and Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah's performances in the motorcycling scene have earned motorsports a handsome package from the government that will boost development.
Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek yesterday announced a four-part package that now elevates drivers, riders and teams into the forefront of Malaysian sport, alongside Olympic athletes.
Of most significance is the support package promised for drivers and motorcycle riders performing at the international level, who will now receive assistance, support and treatment from the National Sports Institute (NSI).
"Previously they have all been taking care of themselves or via sponsors, but now the government feels the NSI can also play a role in helping in areas of physical preparation, conditioning and treatment of injuries," said Ahmad Shabery.
The ministry is also studying with the National Sports Council (NSC) an allowance package similar to what is received by athletes preparing under programmes like the Road to Rio de Janeiro programme for motorsports.
The Sports Minister yesterday hosted a luncheon to congratulate Hafizh for his sensational performance in the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix last Sunday and to celebrate the birthday of JK Racing Asia Series championship leader Nabil Jan Al Jeffri, who turned 19 yesterday.
Nabil left for India yesterday, where the JKRAS will be run as a support event for the Formula One Indian Grand Prix this weekend, leading the championship by 42 points and looking good to seal the championship.
Moto3 rider Zulfahmi, who is away for the AirAsia Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix this weekend, was not present.
Ahmad Shabery also announced an RM15 million budget already approved by the Cabinet for the construction of the first of four drag racing strips in the country, for which his ministry is scouting for a suitable plot of land within range of the Klang Valley.
Ahmad Shabery also announced that the National Youth Skills Institute (IKBN) in Temerloh has become the first of those centres to provide training for motorsports-related workforce.
By Arnaz M. Khairul