Zulfahmi Khairuddin: “If I didn’t live in Malaysia, I’d move to Barcelona”10/06/2013
Zulfahmi Khairuddin is the only Malaysian rider in the Moto3 World Championship. A few days ahead of the sixth round of the year, the Grand Prix of Catalonia, the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider talks about his life in Europe, his experiences away from his homeland and how the state of Malaysian motorcycling. At Park Guell in Barcelona, designed by famous architect Antoni Gaudi, Zulfahmi Khairuddin takes a rest before facing the race held at his second home.
Do you like the travel involved in Grand Prix racing? Do you get a chance to familiarise yourself with the places you go to?
“The truth is that during the season we don’t have much time to get away. At most you have a day to see the city where a GP is held sometimes, but that’s not the norm. You get used to spending all day at the circuit. It is a pity, because I really like to visit new countries, try their typical food and meet people from around the world.”
You spent a year in Europe in 2010. What was that experience like and why did you choose to go back to Malaysia?
“The experience of 2010, living in Italy, was very good and important for me. It was my first year in Europe and I didn’t know many people, nor was I familiar with the food ─very important!─ or the weather. It was a little difficult, especially during the first three months, because I was not used to everything around me. I especially struggled with the cold and the food. After the first few months I got used to it and finally I felt good and learned a lot from the people around me. For the past two years I have lived in Malaysia. It’s better for me to live there because I like to go home, to see my family and my friends. Moreover, the weather in Malaysia is always good. As is normal, I guess, there is nowhere else where I feel so comfortable.”
And if you had to spend time away from Malaysia, where would you like to go?
“In Barcelona, which is a city that I like a lot. Many of my team members live there and I love it.”
Many of your team members are Spanish and a big part of your preseason is spent in Spain. What do you like about the country?
“The beach, the city [Barcelona], the people… This country has many good circuits and racing is very popular here.”
Is it true that you can sleep very easily on things like plane journeys?
“It’s true; I have the ability to sleep anytime, anywhere. I need only five minutes to fall asleep! Last year, noticing this, the team gave me a cushion!”
More and more Malaysians are becoming MotoGP fans every year. Do you think we will see more Malaysian riders in the World Championship in the future?
“I hope so, but it is difficult to find riders who can make the leap up, because there is so much talent at World Championship level. Nevertheless, I think that the Sepang Circuit and the people involved there are doing a very good job. In my country there are some very talented riders.”
Last year you took your first podium at Sepang. What do you remember about that?
“It was a Grand Prix that I will never forget: My first podium in Moto3! I felt bad about not being able to win in front of all the fans, but the experience helped and next time I will shut the door tighter on the last corner.”
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
“I don’t know; for me to be in the World Championship is already a dream come true. Few riders know what they will be doing in five years’ time. I would like to be able to one day ride in MotoGP. It is very difficult but I will work hard for it.”
Final question: If you weren’t a rider, what would you have liked to have been?
“Something to do with bikes, as I love this world. So I would have liked to be a mechanic or engineer.”