#ThaiGP Buriram, raceday roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was crowned an eight-time World Champion as he took victory in the PTT Thailand Grand Prix, but it was far from easy going as rookie sensation Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) once again took the reigning Champion to the wire on race day. The two were locked together on each and every lap, with the final corner deciding it all as Quartararo hit attack mode and dived up the inside, but Marquez kept the better of him. Behind the two, Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) completed the podium.
It was Quartararo who kept the lead from pole as the lights went out, with Marquez on his tail from the off as Viñales lost a place off the line. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) did the opposite and shot through the pack, up from seventh on the grid to muscle his way into P4 straight away – first mission accomplished. Despite the start though, Marquez, Quartararo and Viñales started to pull away, with the number 12 particularly keen to make a move on Marquez. Not long after, however, the front two also started to drop Viñales.
Trying to attack Quartararo early doors, Marquez had run slightly wide and from then on, the reigning Champion seemed more content to sit behind the rookie Frenchman – just as he did at Misano. Sometimes further away, sometimes a little closer…sometimes seeming to fade and then suddenly pulling the pin to move back in, Marquez stalked his prey lap after lap.
Viñales couldn’t stay with the pair, and as they moved on to the final lap it was set in stone as another rookie-reigning Champion duel. And the ball was in the reigning Champion’s court, with Marquez trailing the Frenchman as he had all race. But he struck early, where he’d feinted the move a few laps before, outbraking Quartararo at the end of the back straight. Now, it was all on the rookie. Could he stay with him? Could he attack back?
Throughout the lap the Yamaha was making up the distance on the Honda in the lead, and blasting down towards the final corner it seemed he was close enough. Sure enough, ‘El Diablo’ pulled out, back wheel in the air as he dropped anchor, slamming it up the inside…but Marquez was ready. The number 93 cut back and gassed it towards the line, just able to stay ahead to take the win and a stunning eighth world title, his sixth in the premier class.
Quartararo, meanwhile, was left with another second place – but he was closer than last time, and will surely be closer again…
Viñales completed the podium after another solid but ultimately lonely race, not quite on terms with the duel ahead but nearly ten seconds clear of Dovizioso in fourth, who found race day tougher going in 2019. Second in the Championship, however, seems ever more likely.
Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) recovered from a tougher qualifying and tougher start to the race to complete the top five, just two tenths off Dovi by the flag. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) took P6 and another solid haul of points despite fading a few positions from the start.
Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) took on Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and won, four tenths ahead of the veteran by the flag, and both leapfrogged second row starter Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team). The Mugello winner came home in a lonely P9.
Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) was the second Honda home as he completed the top ten, ahead of rookie Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing). Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) suffered braking issues and could only manage 12th at Buriram.
Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was able to take P13 as he comes back from injury, impressive once again and going the distance, with Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) taking P14. Why? The Australian unfortunately hit the kill switch on the grid and had to start from pitlane. Considering that, it was quite a comeback, just edging ahead of Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), who in turn beat Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3).
And so, that’s a wrap on the 2019 Championship fight, although it’s far from the end of the season. Marquez breaks more records and takes home another trophy, and Quartararo takes home yet more experience to keep improving his already impressive armoury. Next up it’s the Twin Ring Motegi…tune in in two weeks, when Marquez could be unleashed…
Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) absolutely dominated the PTT Thailand Grand Prix, getting to the front early on and then putting the hammer down to pull well clear of the chasing pack. That chasing pack was headed by an all-KTM duel between Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Iker Lecuona (American Racing KTM), with the South African able to hold off the Spaniard at the final corner. Just behind them, Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) came out on top in an almighty scrap with Championship rival Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS).
Marquez took the holeshot from pole, with Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) keeping second and Marini immediately making his presence felt as he blasted up into the top three. He was soon the man on the chase behind Marquez too, and the gap between the two started to come down as the Italian pulled the pin. With Marini into the lead by Lap 3, he and Marquez were both also easing away from the group behind, but once Lecuona was through into third he was also able to home in.
As that battle got closer and closer to a reality though, Marini got further and further away. And before long, Marquez had a small queue behind him of Lecuona, Binder, and Fernandez. The number 27 attacked and was denied, Binder would look for a way through on his fellow KTM, and Fernandez was right on the back of them – but still Marquez held firm. By Lap 13 though, Lecuona had made his move and made it stick, with Binder then following him through as well.
That created two duels. The all-KTM fight for second, and the brutal bust up for supremacy between the Championship leader and the man who is now once again his closest challenger. In the first, Binder waited it out and it was only over the line for the last lap that the South African led the way, then left to defend his position and everything going down to the final corner. Lecuona pounced, but the Spaniard then had to perform the save of his career to stay on the bike – and Binder was able to cross the line first.
Behind them, it was Fernandez who beat Marquez at Buriram. The battle was brutal, however, with so much on the line – and the number 40 ultimately coming out on top. For the Championship, he needed to – and he even almost got on terms with Lecuona after the KTM rider’s mammoth moment out of the final corner.
After Fernandez’ crash at Aragon, however, taking P5 just behind his compatriot was still enough for Alex Marquez to extend his lead. It’s now 40 points ahead of number 40 Fernandez after a 0 for Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up)…and Binder is now third, only 44 points back…
Sixth went the way of Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) as the rookie took his best finish yet and from his first front row, ahead of Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46). Home hero Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), meanwhile, took an impressive ninth on home hero – getting the better of Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) at the final corner, who in turn was only just clear of Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team).
Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team), Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team), Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) back from injury and front row starter Nagashima completed the points, with Navarro in P17.
Was Buriram another pivotal race in the title fight? Marquez left with a bigger lead but he also had some serious rivals. What can the likes of Fernandez and Binder do in Japan? Find out in two weeks at the Twin Ring Motegi.
Albert Arenas (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team) took his first victory of the season in the PTT Thailand Grand Prix, becoming a record-breaking 11th different winner in 2019 after coming out on top in a battle of attrition at Buriram. The Spaniard fought at the front throughout and held off Championship leader Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) at the final corner, although the Italian’s second place seriously increased his lead in the standings after key rival Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) suffered a DNF. Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) completed the podium, taking his first ever rostrum finish.
Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) took the holeshot from second on the grid, the Spaniard getting the jump on polesitter Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) as the Italian lost a few positions off the line. Arenas initially took over in second, although Lopez was threatening behind and Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) another to soon make his presence felt. But it remained, of course, a huge freight train at the front.
Lorenzo Dalla Porta and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) were making waves at the front of the pack before long too, and the contest was a classic Moto3™ squabble of changing positions, swapping paint and slipstreaming. And it seemed that was the challenge for Dalla Porta and closest title rival Canet: navigating calmly through the storm despite so much on the line for both.
Calm, however, it would not prove to be – for Canet, at least. Mid-race, the Spaniard suffered contact in a multi-rider crash instigated by Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power), down at the final corner along with John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse). The South African was given a ride through penalty for the move, but the Championship damage was done for Canet as Dalla Porta was left with an open goal. Would he capitalise?
Heading into the final laps, a smaller group of seven was fighting it out for the podium, with Arbolino out of it and well down the order after suffering a problem and adjusting his glove, Andrea Migno (Mugen Race) skittling Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) and Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) sliding out. Bit by bit, however, it became five, as Dalla Porta, Arenas, Lopez, Ramirez and Vietti all vied for victory.
At Buriram, the final corner always creates last minute drama and this last lap was no different. Arenas was ahead into the braking area but Dalla Porta, despite everything on the line, decided to lunge for it – and the Italian made it through. Arenas was ready though, and the Spaniard cut back across to gun it to the line and took the flag a couple of tenths clear; his first win of the year.
Dalla Porta was able to just hold off an awesome performance from Alonso Lopez, with the Championship leader taking a valuable 20 points for second. Lopez’ third, meanwhile, saw him visit the rostrum for the first time in his Grand Prix career, another boost to his impressive form of late.
Ramirez completed the podium after a solid race running at or near the front, just losing out over the last couple of laps – and getting a brief punt at the final corner with a few laps to go, too. Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46), who took his first podium in Thailand last year, ultimately just got the better of rookie polesitter teammate Vietti as the two took fifth and sixth respectively, just ahead of Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia), who was the last man in the front group.
Next up was a best yet for Stefano Nepa (Reale Avintia Arizona 77) by some stretch, the Italian taking an impressive P8 and crossing the line somewhat lonely. Rookie Raul Fernandez (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team) was the next man up the road, a few seconds back, as he took ninth.
Arbolino, after his issue during the race, gritted his teeth to be able to come back from as low as 18th and complete the top ten, with Filip Salač (Redox PrüstelGP) and teammate Jakub Kornfeil taking 11th and 12th, the three all within half a second of Fernandez. Riccardo Rossi (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3), Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) completed the points.
That’s it from a hot and action-packed PTT Thailand Grand Prix. Next up it’s Motegi – a home track for plenty and another chance for the Championship to take yet another twist…