Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fairuz’s selection based purely on merit, says Syed Zainal

ALENCE (France): The naming of Malaysian Fairuz Fauzy as the reserve driver for F1 team Lotus Renault GP is not a marketing or patriotic gimmick, insist the team’s backers Proton.

Proton managing director Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin Tahir, who is in France to witness the Proton Motorsports Rally Team in action for the Monte Carlo Rally, said that Fairuz’s selection was based purely on merit.

“We have seen and learnt how things have gone terribly wrong when a driver is hired based on non-competitive reasons,” he said yesterday.

“Fairuz has the needed experience, having competed at various levels, including GP2 races. Lotus Renault GP moved in to sign him when we found out that Lotus Racing were releasing him.”

Syed Zainal added that Fairuz would have his work cut out for him in Lotus Renault GP and would have to prove his worth, just like any other member of the team.

“Just because Fairuz is a Malaysian does not mean that he will have it easy or that the path is clear for him to take up one of the two racing seats in the future,” he said.

“He will be judged on his efforts and if he performs well, he will be considered for promotion to compete in F1 races.”

Last season, the 28-year-old Fairuz drove in several Friday practice sessions for the Air Asia-backed Lotus Racing.

Meanwhile, Syed Zainal said that Proton were working with various authorities for Malaysia to host a leg of the highly popular Intercontinental Rally Championship (IRC) series.

“Proton’s involvement in the IRC and APRC (Asian Pacific Championships) has increased Malaysians’ interest in the rallying scene. It will be good if we are able to host an IRC rally, hopefully in the next three years.”

At present, all the 12 legs on the IRC calendar are hosted in Europe.

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