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 more points than Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and be 100 points 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 lap 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.
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 he also finished two places ahead of Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT). The impressive Frenchman 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. Quartararo 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 the Austrian factory 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).