Razlan Razali: “Sunday’s Moto3 win is a dream come true for the team”

Razlan Razali and Johan Stigefelt comment on PETRONAS Sprinta Racing’s historic triumph at the French GP.

VIDEO: PETRONAS Sprinta Racing’s first win from the inside

John McPhee’s thrilling Moto3 win this past Sunday at Le Mans will go down in history for PETRONAS Sepang Racing Team and Malaysian motorsport. Team Principal, Razlan Razali, and Team Director, Johan Stigefelt, review an unforgettable weekend that saw a first victory for the squad since its formation in 2015.

What does it feel like to win a Grand Prix? What were you thinking when John crossed the finish line?
Razlan Razali: “The feeling of having won our first race is very difficult to describe. We started out in this class in 2015, and despite taking podiums with Jakub Kornfeil that same season and in 2016, a win is something completely different. It’s been a battle to get to the top step of the podium, and to win at Le Mans, with John McPhee, it’s a dream come true for the team.”

Johan Stigefelt: “It’s difficult to describe in words because when you work so hard, for so many years, without getting a victory, when it finally arrives it’s a release. You could see that from the reactions of everybody in the box. It was a dream come true. For anyone who competes in the world of motorsport, getting a victory in a World Championship is incredible. The feeling and emotions are incredible.”

What does this win mean for Malaysia and Malaysian Motorsport?
R.R.: “The most important thing in relation to Malaysia and Malaysian motorsport is that we have proven our credibility. We have shown that our team is strong, and together with a good rider we have been able to achieve a victory. It shows that we can fight to repeat this feat and also fight for more podiums. Our Malaysian team, which also has Malaysian members, is made up of experienced people who know what they are doing. I want to take the opportunity to dedicate this victory to Malaysia and its people. I hope that this win will inspire all young Malaysian riders to work hard to become great competitors and reach the World Championship.”

When did you realise that it could be the first win for the team?
J.S.: “On Saturday after qualifying. I saw that we had good pace. John was very quick and we found something with the bike and from him. On Friday we had a productive talk about the weekend and we devised a good plan for Saturday to try to improve in practice, and also looked ahead to the race on Sunday. I think the talk we had with him and his chief mechanic was very important. I knew we could fight for the victory, but it’s very difficult to predict a result in Moto3, because even on the last lap there are so many riders at the front. You have to be very tough to overcome the challenges from the other riders and be strong right up to the finish line.

I realised that we could win at the beginning of the last lap. On the first corner he was in P2 and I knew that he had a good opportunity to win. To be honest I wanted the victory, and wasn’t going to settle for a podium. I saw that John was going for the victory when he was coming out of Turn 8 and caught Dalla Porta on the slipstream. I saw then that we really had the chance to win, because at Le Mans it’s very difficult to overtake on the final corners. When he went through Turns 10 and 11 leading the race I thought that the victory was going to come; that was the moment.”

How important is to get this first win the same season the team compete for the first time ever in all three MotoGP categories?
R.R.: “As I said earlier in the year, the Moto3 class is where we have our biggest objective in terms of success. For that to happen, we need to take podiums and wins that allow us to be in the title fight with our riders, John McPhee and Ayumu Sasaki. It’s very important for us to have earned this first victory and to have shown what we can do.”

How important is it that this first win has come in the Moto3 class, with almost the same crew that started the project in 2015?
J.S.: “For me, getting our first win in Moto3 is a very big thing. I started this project with Razlan in 2015. We have achieved some podiums and good results in qualifying sessions, but we had a very tough season last year. This victory means a lot. It means that we made a good choice in signing John. We have shown that we are fast, and that the structure of the team is very good. This is something that I have always told them and I have protected them, because I have worked with them basically since 2014 – and with some of them for more than 10 years. It was something very important and something that we had dreamed about for a long time.”

What are the keys to building a winning team?
J.S.: “Working for a long time with the people on your team, having a good structure and having a good atmosphere within the team. Of course, the technical side is very important; the crew chiefs are important, and also the mechanics. We have a good structure. In the end, we know that it’s the rider who makes the difference, because even if you have the best team in the world, if you don’t have a good rider to take the bike onto the podium, it won’t work.”

Finally, after this first win, what’s the next target? What can we expect?
R.R.: “After having tasted our first victory, of course we want more. We want more wins in Moto3, more successes in Moto2, and also our first MotoGP podium. This is motorsport: The World Championship is the highest level of competition, so the aspiration of every Team Principal is to win. We are going to continue working to repeat this many more times.”