All or nothing: MotoGP™ hits boiling point at Buriram
Marquez heads for Chang International Circuit with Championship point
Monday, 30 September 2019
The first time MotoGP™ visited Buriram, the race was a duel to remember. To add a little more to the history books at the PTT Thailand Grand Prix second time around, this year the Championship hangs in the balance as Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) has the chance to win title number eight. So what are the chances? Fairly high. The reigning Champion won here last year and he’s 98 points clear with only four races remaining. To boil the maths down to its simplest form, Marquez has to score two or more points more than Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and be 100 points or more clear when the flag falls on Sunday. He already has too many wins to be caught on that count.
Winning races and Championships is far more than a numbers game, however. It’s no mean feat beating Dovizioso, and Marquez knows that better than anyone. Buriram 2018 is the one last corner duel against the Italian Marquez has won, so if we’re on for a repeat performance, the number 93 will have to pull it off again and upend the last corner statistics once more…
Grands Prix aren’t just about the title fight though. Last year Yamaha weren’t far behind the leading duo and Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi will be gunning to put Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP back on the podium, and Danilo Petrucci, Dovizioso’s teammate, needs a result. After a tougher run of form in the last few races, Buriram could be a good track for the Ducati man to bounce back, and he’ll want to – quickly.
Why? His fight for third with Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar). After Rins’ stunning win at Silverstone, the Spaniard has floundered on race day and he’s another who needs a good haul of points, although it could be tougher going for the Hamamatsu factory machines at the venue. He’ll want to at least try and take the fight to Petrucci though, with the two close in the standings fighting for third overall – just a point apart.
Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) is another who will want to maximise the Ducati’s potential at Buriram and take some good points. An impressive third podium of the year at MotorLand saw him deny Viñales the chance to finish on the podium three times in a row for the first time in the premier class, and crucially Miller also finished two places ahead of Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT). The ever impressive Quartararo is well on top in the fight for Rookie of the Year, but he’s also fighting for top Independent Team rider and Miller is his key rival as it stands. The Frenchman is only six points clear of the Australian as we head into the flyaways…
Meanwhile, KTM will want to use Buriram to hopefully see Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) back on track – but also to gain some more daylight over Aprilia in the manufacturers’ Championship. With Pol Espargaro sidelined through injury in Aragon and Aleix Espargaro and Andrea Iannone putting on an impressive show for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini, the Noale factory closed in a little – and it will be interesting to see how Mika Kallio, replacing Johann Zarco, can go in Thailand as he aims to score for KTM as well.
The PTT Thailand Grand Prix seems likely to see Marquez steal the headlines in the Championship, but the raucous and packed out Chang International Circuit will put on an amazing show throughout the field regardless. Tune in on Sunday 6th October as lights go out for the MotoGP™ race at 14:00 local time (GMT +7).
1 – Marc Marquez (SPA – Honda) – 300
2 – Andrea Dovizioso (ITA – Ducati) – 202
3 – Alex Rins (SPA – Suzuki) – 156
4 – Danilo Petrucci (ITA – Ducati) – 155
5 – Maverick Viñales (SPA – Yamaha) – 147
Marquez vs Moto2™: is Buriram the start of the home straight?
The number 73 remains in control after a crash for Fernandez at Aragon. But there are still five weekends to go…
Two wins on the bounce had given Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) some serious momentum in Moto2™, but a mistake at MotorLand Aragon has seen the Spaniard slip to third overall and over 40 points off the top – now leapfrogged by Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up). Is time running out for those on the chase to catch Marquez? Mathematically, it isn’t, but it would likely need some serious drama to intervene in the rest of the races to really derail the story of the season so far.
That story, ultimately, is one of consistency. Marquez has lost out once through a mistake of his own, and he’s reaping the rewards of the combination of speed and settling when it’s necessary. Navarro just behind him has been a fairly consistent presence each race weekend too, although he’s yet to stand on the top step. That means that if Marquez does start to feel the pressure, Navarro could end up challenging for the crown from the rare position of not being a race winner…yet.
Others have seared their way to glory, however, and there’s something to be said for reeling in the wins – that’s what put Fernandez where he is. And Brad Binder’s (Red Bull KTM Ajo) two wins in the latter half of the season have helped put him just 53 points down, in fifth. Given an incredibly tough start to the season for Austrian factory KTM, that’s something to really write home about – and the tracks coming next get the South African grinning.
Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP), meanwhile, is still looking for a bit more of his early season form. The Swiss rider has kept reeling in the points, but he’s not been on the charge like we’ve seen. Can he bounce back as we head into the flyaways? Will teammate Marcel Schrötter mix it up with the frontrunners again once he’s back from injury? And what of Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46), the only man on the grid who’s previously been on the podium at the track?
Home hero Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), though, will likely have most of the crowd on his side. There may be a title fight happening at the top, but the intermediate class rookie will be the true hero of the hour for the Thai crowd. Last year he took an impressive top ten in Moto3™, what can he do in 2019? Tune in for the PTT Thailand Grand Prix from the 4th to 6th October to find out as Moto2™ take on Buriram – with the final twists and turns in the Championship awaiting on the flyaways.
1 – Alex Marquez (SPA – Kalex) – 213
2 – Jorge Navarro (SPA – Speed Up) – 175
3 – Augusto Fernandez (SPA – Kalex) – 171
4 – Tom Lüthi (SWI – Kalex) – 169
5 – Brad Binder (RSA – KTM) – 160
As you were: the Moto3™ duel reignites on the road to Buriram
The gap is back to almost nothing as the lightweight class head for Thailand
At MotorLand Aragon, Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) was on fire and key rival Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) had a difficult day at the office. In short, 25 points for Canet vs an eleventh place for the Championship leader mean it’s almost as you were in the tightest title fight of the season, with just two points separating them on the way to Thailand. The see-saw rivalry of the summer is back and Buriram could be an interesting place to head next.
We’ve only raced once at the Thai track and last year’s first contact makes good reading for Dalla Porta. He came second, only a tenth down, and Canet? He didn’t race. The Spaniard arrives with no former knowledge of the venue after he missed the event last year due to injury, so it could prove more of an uphill struggle for him. With the rest of the grid, minus the rookies, joining Dalla Porta in having more experience, that only adds to Canet’s challenge.
Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers), especially, is not yet out of reach of a charge for the top, although the Italian had a more difficult first race at Chang International Circuit last season. John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) did too, but the likes of Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) and Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) showed some good form – as did Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46), who took his first podium. Will the rest of the field avoid the attrition of 2019?
The PTT Thailand Grand Prix will see Canet gunning to get up to speed from the 4th of October, before race day on Sunday the 6th. Can the Spaniard take the fight to last year’s runner up, Dalla Porta? Or is there another twist around the corner? Find out this weekend!
1 – Lorenzo Dalla Porta (ITA – Honda) – 184
2 – Aron Canet (SPA – KTM) – 182
3 – Tony Arbolino (ITA – Honda) – 155
4 – John McPhee (GBR – Honda) – 126
5 – Marcos Ramirez (SPA – Honda) – 123