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Khairul Idham Pawi: An Overight Sensation 5 Years In The Making

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Khairul Idham Pawi’s sensational win at the GP of Argentina on April 3, 2016 has captivated the nation’s imagination.

Overnight, his name flooded the traditional and social media networks. To many, this 17-year-old teenager came out of nowhere to become the first ever Malaysian to win a race at the world level. What few realized was that this overnight sensation took five years in the making.

The Perak-born rider made his debut in the PETRONAS AAM Malaysian Cub Prix Championship in the Honda Wave Challenge category – a single-make scholarship talent development platform developed by Honda and runs in conjunction with the Cub Prix.

In the 2012 season, the then 13-year-old Khairul Idham was the stand out talent of the class where he completed a perfect season.

In 2013, Khairul Idham moved up from single-make to win the Wira category that is specifically for riders aged 13 to 17 years old. The Honda’s talent path for emerging young riders then took Khairul to the Asia Dream Cup, yet another talent mill but this time raced in conjunction with the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship.

Khairul Idham Pawi at age of13
Khairul Idham Pawi at the age of 13 during the PETRONAS AAM Malaysian Cub Prix Championship in the Honda Wave Challenge category.

Khairul became the third rider to win the Asia Dream Cup title in 2014, the same year he clinched the Wira title in the Malaysian Cub Prix. In 2015, Khairul spent a year juggling racing appointments in both the Spanish National Championship (CEV) and the Malaysian Cub Prix.

Finally in 2016, the Malaysian ace made his full season debut in the Moto3 World Championships.

Khairul’s victory created many ‘firsts’ – he was the first Malaysian to win a race in the world series, a feat that many had come close but did not accomplish. He was also the first win for Honda Team Asia. However, he was anything but a sudden phenomenon.

Khairul overall Asia Dream Cup champion 2014
Khairul emerged victorious, crowned the overall Asia Dream Cup champion in 2014.

“On behalf of everyone in the Malaysian Cub Prix, we would like to extend our congratulations to Khairul Idham. We share in his delight and will continue to pray for his future successes,” said Ron Hogg, Director of Safe Aim Mutual Sdn Bhd, the race promoters of the Malaysian Cub Prix.

“The Malaysian Cub Prix has spent 23 years patiently changing the course of the motorsports industry – specifically so that a young talent like Khairul Idham can come in, shine and develop.

It has been a long process – from starting the age-capped Wira class despite scepticism from many parties, to convincing the motorcycle manufacturers to turn their one-make races into talent developmental platforms, to working with PETRONAS and other partners like Honda to establish a platform that bring benefits to many and not just a few.

Khairul in action during Asia Dream Cup race in 2014
Khairul in action during the Asia Dream Cup race in 2014.

Now, we are beginning to see the efforts of two decades coming to fruition. Behind Khairul Idham, there are many other riders with the potential to be just as good – each one of them are at a different stage of their development.”

“Khairul Idham Pawi is a case study about how there are no short cuts to success. Developing any athlete takes time. Results do not happen overnight. The Malaysian Cub Prix is free to all spectators. When we develop riders, it is not about selling tickets to our events. This is done for the love of the sport and in our strong belief in the talents of Asian riders.

“Therefore, it is important that we place the riders’ and teams’ welfare first before any other consideration – no matter how unpopular that decision may be in the short term.”

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