Ahead of MotoGP’s first trip to Buriram, a few of the riders visited the capital of Thailand, Bangkok, to soak in some culture and get to know the Southeast Asian nation – with Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing), Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins and Andrea Iannone beginning their day with a trip to Wat Arun.
The stunning Wat Arun (or ‘Temple of Dawn’) is a true jewel of the city, and there the riders were received by a Thai dance display and a traditional puppet exhibition. At the temple, they met the Permanent Secretary of Sports and Tourism, Mr. Pongpanu Svetarundra, who welcomed the riders to Thailand and gave them flower garlands and a silk loin cloth, which is typical of the Buriram region.
A tour guide explained the history of the temple, which is located right next to the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok, before the next stop on the tour was a Press Conference. There they were all quizzed on their thoughts about the city and Bangkok was a hit with the riders, but everyone also said they were eager to get to Buriram and test the new track.
The riders then met the Thai Prime Minister, General Prayut Chan-o-cha, who thanked the riders for visiting Thailand and was eager for the PTT Thailand Grand Prix later in the year – thanking Dorna, Chang International Circuit and PTT for making the event a reality.
The Prime Minister also professed his love for speed and encouraged the riders to ride fast, but stay safe. He then received a helmet from the riders signed by each one of them, and promised to wear it, and the riders were given some gifts in return – including a good luck charm to keep them safe on track.
Next up, the riders were shown around Government House. Construction of the spectacular building originally began in 1925 and it was designed by an Italian architect, with some key resemblances to the Ca' d'Oro (Palazzo Santa Sofia) in the city of Venice. Now there is also a newly-constructed section of the building only a year old, with the echoes of the Serenissima sitting alongside their modern counterpart.
Now, however, it’s time to switch back to track mode and leave the tourism behind as the riders head for Buriram. North east of Bangkok, Chang International Circuit awaits and testing begins on Friday at 9:30 local time – that’s GMT +7.