MOHD Zulfahmi Khairuddin defied the odds and a wrist injury that had hampered him all weekend to grab a worthy sixth place finish from 11th on the grid in the Grand Prix of Qatar on Sunday.It was a finish that the Red Bull-KTM-AirAsia rider was satisfied with, particularly after struggling through the three practice sessions and qualifying.
That sealed a strong start to the opening race weekend of the season as Zulfahmi, 21, saw Spanish teammate Luis Salom grab victory in style, ahead of Maverick Vinales and Alex Rins.
"I am very satisfied with the race. The team worked very well throughout the weekend," said Zulfahmi, who is touted as a title challenger this season after finishing seventh overall last season.
"During the practice sessions we had to work hard, and that is the same thing I did at the start of the race.
"I was passed by many riders, but I managed to recover and climb to sixth.
"However, I was unable to catch the leading group. Despite this, I'm very happy with the result at the first race and I hope to improve in Austin."
Zulfahmi's trip to the United States for the Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin, Texas on April 19-21, however, will depend on the outcome of further examinations of his left wrist injury at the National Sports Institute (NSI) on Friday.
He initially sustained the injury in a crash at the Catalunya Grand Prix in 2011, but suffered a recurrence during his final pre-season tests in Spain last month.
There wasn't sufficient time for Zulfahmi to recover before the Qatar race, and the NSI has called him back into the treatment room upon his return.
NSI chief executive officer Ahmad Shapawi Ismail yesterday said Zulfahmi will be required to undergo an ultrasound scan.
"It will be to determine the extent of the damage, upon which we will seek advice from specialists.
"Then we will have to take the SIC's opinions as his manager and sponsor before making further decisions," said Ahmad Shapawi.
"After initial examinations, our doctors believe that surgery will be required to prevent the injury from recurring.
"But if Zulfahmi's schedule doesn't permit, we will have to provide physiotherapy to reduce the impact of the injury on his performances."
- New Straits Times