Death of Mohd. Hafiz Nor Azman a Wake-Up Call?

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Condolences to Mohd Hafiz Nor Azman's family. Picture from Malaysian Cub Prix
  • Mohd. Hafiz Nor Azman passed away after crashing at the Cub Prix final race over the weekend.

  • The organizers promised a thorough investigation.

  • The tragedy was the second in the space of 18 months.

“What about runoff areas? See that food truck over there?”

--Innity--

The unfortunately incident and passing of Mohd. Hafiz Nor Azman at a motorcycle race ought to serve as a wake-up call.

This was the second death of a Cub Prix rider in 18 months. Two-time National Champion Norizman Ismail passed away at Kemaman, Terengganu in May last year when he slid into an air fence followed by his bike.

What happened

Hafiz paid the ultimate price at the final round of the Petronas AAM Malaysian Cub Prix 2018 Championship, held at Dataran Bandar Penawar in Johor on Sunday. He had been competing in the CP150 race.

Heading into a chicane, a rider in front of Hafiz had contacted a board at the side of the track, sending him to the ground. Hafiz ran over the rider and crashed heavily himself. According to NST’s report, he was unconscious and passed away at Hospital Bukit Tinggi.

The aftermath

The disaster sent shockwaves throughout all walks of life in Malaysia. Condolences poured in for Hafiz’s family. His team’s main sponsor, Petronas issued a press statement, announcing their sadness for the rider’s team.

However, shock gave in to dismay and people started to speculate about what happened in the same breath. What had caused the young rider’s demise has yet been determined, but there are already many Horatio Canes in Facebook. Here’s when fingers start pointing in every direction.

However, the paramount issue here is about safety. Hafiz’s grieving father queried, “Was the track safe or not? I felt the track was a little lacking in safety.”

Past champion and national rider, Wazi Abdul Hamid shared his views at the funeral.

Opinion

We are not criticizing the organizers for they have done the best they could. The air fences have certainly reduced rider injuries by a wide margin since their introduction many years back. On the other hand, the best needs to evolve to stay the best.

150cc cubs are already super-fast these days in stock form. We tested the Yamaha Y15ZR when it debuted in 2015 and it hit almost a 150 km/h top speed. Just imagine how much faster they are in race trim.

Having a fast bike where there’s lots of space isn’t much of a problem, but Cub Prix races are usually held on open air car parks. Car parks have high concrete curbs, typical deplorable surfaces and tight confines when converted into a racetrack. What about runoff areas? See that food truck over there?

Solution?

Is widening the track a better solution? That would seem good idea at first glance, but it would only create higher corner speeds. Faster crashes are not pleasant.

The obvious choice is to hold the races at purpose-built facilities. Yes, there aren’t many in Malaysia apart from the Sepang International Circuit (SIC). On the other hand, there are many go-kart tracks scattered throughout the country. Problem is, these go-kart tracks are situated in hard-to-reach areas. Conversely, large numbers of spectators present another challenge as some go-kart tracks usually lack exciting views. Currently, Cub Prix spectators stand behind fencing that’s right up next to the track.

But whatever is decided, it better be decided on by next year’s first practice. We Malaysians have an annoying obsession with the status quo until tragedy strikes. But what’s worse is that we start pointing fingers again.

Like the bereaved father said, “I hope the relevant parties will look into the incident and prevent another tragedy.”

Twice is once too many times. A third fatality, if due to lack of improvements to track safety is criminal.

Bikes Republic and our sister site MotoMalaya would like to extend our condolences to Mohd. Hafiz’s family. Al-fatihah.

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