MotoGP Reports: All The Action From Thailand

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Buriram, Thailand changes everything as Oliveira wins, Pecco takes a podium and Quartararo fails to score. The KTM rider defeated Miller to the win, with Bagnaia third, Aleix Espargaro 11th after a Long Lap penalty… and Quartararo just not taking any points. Read all the action from the weekend below. 

Friday
After two sessions back in business in Buriram, it’s incredibly close at the top at the OR Thailand Grand Prix. Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) just took it by 0.018, with Championship challenger Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) the rider just denied the top spot but taking second. Jorge Martin completed an all-Ducati top three, and made it both Pramacs in the upper echelons.

World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) had a solid day on the timesheets in fifth, right behind one rider with a little fighting talk on Friday: Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). The number 93 rated his chances of a podium highly if we raced on Day 1, and was fastest in FP1 despite a slide off. Quartararo and Marquez both set their best laps in FP1, too.



On the other side of the coin, both the riders third and fourth in the standings are currently heading for Q1 and outside the top ten. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) was 13th and teammate Maverick Viñales 15th as the new RS-GP tackles Thailand for the first time, and Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) was 11th on Friday – missing out by just 0.025.

While it rained on and off during Friday, the track was well and truly dry for MotoGP FP2. That gave competitors the opportunity to work on their race pace and while Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was top for the session on a 1:31.088 with 10 minutes to go, there still had been no change to the combined top 10. That would change once the time attacks started, but even then, only half the 24-strong field improved on their FP1 pace. Martin was first to shift the benchmark, then Bagnaia and finally Zarco.



Japanese GP winner Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) is sixth-fastest overall. He was frustrated with himself at a mistake while going underneath Tetsuta Nagashima (LCR Honda Idemitsu) in the closing minutes, but his FP1 effort was good enough to provisionally book a spot in Q2. Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) took seventh on combined times, ahead of Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Rins, and a much improved Friday position for Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha).

Cal Crutchlow (WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP™ Team) was one crasher at Turn 7, and that also  triggered a relatively long yellow flag in Sector 3 near the end of FP2, affecting some. Crutchlow walked away in some pain after losing the rear and being flicked from his YZR-M1 in what was his second crash of the session, ut rider given the all clear at the Medical Centre. Also hitting the floor during the afternoon were Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) at Turn 3, Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) also at Turn 3 in a separate incident, and Darryn Binder (WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP™ Team) at Turn 7 – riders okay.


MotoGP Thailand Friday Top Three (Full Results Here

1 Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) – Ducati – 1’30.281
2 Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) – Ducati – +0.018
3 Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) – Ducati – +0.190


Saturday
The last time two or more MotoGP rookies started from pole in a single season was 2006, and Marco Bezzecchi’s stunning new all-time lap record at Buriram ensures 2022 enters the history books as another such year. The Mooney VR46 Racing Team rider took it by just 0.021 from old Moto3™ sparring partner Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing), with Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) completing the Ducati front row lockout.

The fight went down to the final few seconds as Martin’s provisional pole was snatched away by Bezzecchi, but the number 89 had one last shot at it. And it was close, but he couldn’t quite snatch it back, leaving it as just 0.021 splitting the two.

Bagnaia was first to put in a serious challenge for pole as he headed out earlier than many for a second run, and the Italian made up a huge chunk of time late in the lap. In the end, however, it gives him third – and he is the top qualifier of the Championship challengers.



It’s close, however, with Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) next up at the head of the second row, and that second row is completed by Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™). The contrasting fortunes were for Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing), with both Aprilias failing to make it out of Q1 at a track the new RS-GP is taking on for the first time. Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) splits Quartararo and Bastianini on Row 2, with Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) at the head of Row 3 – but the same place he qualified at Motegi as he blasted away to a dominant win.

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) came through Q1 and was challenging for the front row on his final lap of Q2, but the number 93 then lost over four tenths in the final sector as the final corner proved the lap’s undoing. Still, Marquez will likely prove one to watch on Sunday as the only rider to win at Buriram so far. Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) starts alongside the eight-time World Champion.

Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) completes the top ten ahead of both Red Bull KTM Factory Racing machines of Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder, with the Austrian factory looking for more in that final push of qualifying.


MotoGP Thailand Front Row (Full Results Here)

1 Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) – Ducati – 1’55.214
2 Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) – Ducati –  +0.021
3 Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) – Ducati – +0.104


Sunday
After two mistakes in Japan looked to have changed the fabric of the title fight, an even more dramatic day at the OR Thailand Grand Prix turned everything back on its head. At the front, a stunning wet weather win from Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) saw him impress in difficult conditions once again, with Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) for close company and just seven tenths off at the flag. Behind the two came the first fully wet premier class podium for Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), and those 16 points may well be the biggest scored for some time.

Oliveira may have had flashbacks of Lombok, but Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) didn’t. That podium pace was nowhere to be found on a tough day in Thailand, with the Championship leader simply failing to score as he crossed the line in 17th place. An 18-point advantage accrued after Japan is now just two points – and Quartararo’s race was also a saving grace for Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing).

A tough qualifying made way for a tough start to the race, and then the number 41 also made contact with Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and sent the number 33 well wide. For his trouble, Espargaro was given a Long Lap, compounding a tougher Sunday afternoon as he managed to come back to 11th. Still, with Quartararo’s struggles, the number 41 is closer – it’s only 20 points covering the top three riders.



The race itself saw polesitter Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) start well from pole and then head wide with Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing), and from there on it became the Miller show for some time. Slowly but surely, however, Oliveira was making progress – and around half distance the Portuguese rider struck and made it stick.

Miller wasn’t dropped, but the Australian couldn’t quite find a way back through and was forced to settle for second as Bagnaia dug deep just behind. First holding off Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and then a late-charging Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing), Pecco’s first fully wet podium couldn’t have come at a better time.

Zarco played it safe with the factory’s fate in mind and took less risk to take fourth, with Marquez completing the top five. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) was next up but a little way back from the breakaway top five, with Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) taking seventh ahead of a solid Sunday for Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol). Martin faded back to ninth, with Brad Binder completing the top ten after that early excursion, and finishing just ahead of Aleix Espargaro.

Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) is classified ahead of Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha) after the latter was given a +3 second penalty for track limits without the time to take the Long Lap, with Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) and Raul Fernandez (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) completing the points. Bezzecchi faded from a fabulous start to miss out on scoring by the end of play, coming home just ahead of Quartararo.



And so a dramatic, pivotal and adjective-heavy day at Buriram comes to a close, and with it the triple-header. With only three races to go there are two riders in two points, three riders within 20 and five within 40 points… the last of those being Miller as the man in form heads back onto home turf. What will Phillip Island bring? We’ll find out in just under two weeks as the paddock heads Down Under!


Miguel Oliveira: “It was a long race but I can’t complain! Every time we have the chance to in the wet I’m always fast and when it started raining I had flashbacks to Indonesia but I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start, not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end. I’m super happy with this end of season win, although if it’s in the wet it’s not the conditions where we prefer to win, but anyway I’ll take a win in any conditions!” 



MotoGP Thailand Podium (Full Results Here)

1 Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory) – KTM – 41’44.503
2 Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) – Ducati – +0.730
3 Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) – Ducati – +1.968


Moto2
Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) pitched it to perfection in torrential conditions in Thailand, with an eight-lap race Red Flagged and half points awarded. The Italian just got past Filip Salač (Gresini Racing Moto2™) after the Cezch rider ran wide when the race was called, giving victory after an impressive charge. Salač still takes his first Moto2™ podium in second, with Aron Canet (Flexbox HP 40) completing the podium after an absolute stormer of a first lap.

There was early heartbreak for polesitter and home hero Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) as he crashed out of the lead, but there were no such dramas for teammate and Championship challenger Ai Ogura. The Japanese rider finished a solid sixth and right ahead of points leader Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo), making the gap between the two now just 1.5 points.

Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) took fourth, close on the chase behind Canet, with Alonso Lopez (Beta Tools SpeedUp) in a little space in fifth ahead of the top two in the 2022 title fight.

Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team), passed fit after his Saturday crash, took an impressive eighth, with home hero Keminth Kubo (Yamaha VR46 Master Camp) in P9 for his best ever result. Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) completes the top ten.

After that dramatic short, sharp shot at glory in Thailand, there’s now a week to recharge before we’re back in action at Phillip Island… and just 1.5 points in it!


Moto2 Thailand Podium (Full Results Here)

1 Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) – Kalex – 15’10.854
2 Filip Salač  (Gresini Racing Moto2) – Kalex – +0.251
3 Aron Canet (Flexbox HP 40) – Kalex – +3.112


Moto3
The OR Thailand Grand Prix belongs to Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) as the Italian put in another impressive and imperious performance at the front, eventually taking the flag with a little breathing space as the rain held off for the lightweight class at Buriram. 

Ayumu Sasaki (Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max) came home second as he and Riccardo Rossi (SIC58 Squadra Corse) duelled it out for the podium, with the Italian going for a final corner lunge and overcooking it, but overjoyed to take back to the Grand Prix rostrum.

Championship leader Izan Guevara (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team) remains so with a 49-point gap over second place now, but it was a more muted race for the number 28. Foggia is now the rider in second too, as Sergio Garcia (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team) hit bad luck early on as contact from Adrian Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Tech3) saw him crash out.

Foggia led from early doors, with Sasaki trying to get on the chase but initially needing a little time to get through into, and keep, second. Once he did, he and Foggia were joined by Rossi in a breakaway at the front, with the second group left to fight it out for fourth.

That fight was won by Stefano Nepa (Angeluss MTA Team) from his best qualifying, with Guevara forced to settle for fifth but that enough to extend the lead, just. Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets – MSI), Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team), Jaume Masia (Red Bull KTM Ajo), David Muñoz (BOE Motorsports) and Ryusei Yamanaka (MT Helmets – MSI) completed the second group and the top ten.

The field now has a weekend off before the paddock heads to Phillip Island, with Guevara facing down his first match points. 49 clear, if it’s over 50 he’s wrapped it up!


Moto3 Thailand Podium (Full Results Here)

1 Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) – Honda – 37’52.331
2 Ayumu Sasaki (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) – Husqvarna – +1.524
3 Riccardo Rossi (SIC58 Squadra Corse) – Honda – +2.804


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