The PTT Thailand Grand Prix won best Grand Prix of the year last year and once again, it was a fierce battle out front at the Chang International Circuit. In yet another head-to-head scrap, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) took on Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) in a thrilling climax, leaving it to the last lap to take victory in a final corner showdown. Marquez reigned supreme to take a second consecutive victory in Buriram to become the 2019 MotoGP World Champion, a sixth time in the premier class.
With tension mounting, it was lights-out and a fantastic start from Fabio Quartararo, as the 20-year-old Frenchman blasted into the lead at Turn 1, with Marc Marquez almost colliding with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) on the short shoot to the first turn. Maverick Viñales made a good start and held on to third whilst Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) also got away well, pushing through into fourth. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) didn’t make big gains but was seventh by the end of Lap 1, moving through from ninth on the grid. It was a catastrophe for Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), who stalled his bike on the grid and had to start from Pitlane.
The race settled down and Quartararo set an incredibly hot pace out front, pulling Marquez along with him as the two began to trade fastest lap times. Valentino Rossi had got ahead of Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) at the final corner, whilst Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) loomed in the background. There was a disaster further down the field as Mika Kallio (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) crashed out at Turn 8. The Finnish rider was OK, but his race was run.
If @marcmarquez93 sits exactly where he is, it'll be enough to take the crown. But does anyone expect him to just sit where he is without throwing a few haymakers in the direction of @FabioQ20 ? #ThaiGP pic.twitter.com/SiseqNRm4w— beIN SPORTS USA (@beINSPORTSUSA) October 6, 2019
Lap 7 and Maverick Viñales had dropped out of contention for victory as the Spaniard struggled with a full fuel load in the early laps of the race. Andrea Dovizioso hadn’t been able to make any further in-roads on the riders ahead but had pulled out a half-a-second advantage over Franco Morbidelli, whilst Valentino Rossi was under pressure from the Suzuki pairing of Mir and Rins. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) had dropped to ninth but was two seconds clear of Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) in tenth.
There was drama for Valentino Rossi on Lap 10 and 11, as the Italian experienced a sudden drop-off in pace and found himself behind Rins and then Mir, the latter getting through at Turn 3. The 40-year-old nine-time Champion picked his pace back up but was just 1.7s off the back of the Suzuki. With Rins in clear air, he set of after Morbidelli.
At half race distance, the gap was down between the leading two and Marc Marquez had hit stalking mode; the Honda rider just sat in behind the rookie Frenchman, shadowing him. However, Quartararo responded a lap later, setting a scintillating pace as the two riders duelled. Behind them however, Maverick Viñales was closing in and set his personal best lap of the race for a third consecutive time. The race was reaching an incredible climax, as the leaders began to concertina together.
Lap 15 saw Alex Rins make his way into fifth place, getting ahead of Franco Morbidelli, who was having a very strong and solid ride inside the top six, a position he had held all weekend. There was disappointment behind though, as Aleix Espargaro retired into the pits from a top ten placing. This promoted Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) into the top ten.
The race was coming to a close and on Lap 23, after a few laps of more-or-less riding pillion with Quartararo, Marquez showed his hand at Turn 3 but ran wide, allowing Fabio back ahead. The crowd were on their feet as a second grandstand finish for a second consecutive year beckoned at the Chang International Circuit. Cheers and screams, the atmosphere was electric with history on the horizon in more ways than one.
On the final lap, Marquez tried again at Turn 3 and this time it worked, as he pulled his Honda down to an apex and then blasted onwards to Turn 4. Quartararo had been strong in the final sector for the entire race however and built in momentum all the way through from Turn 8. Closing through every corner, Quartararo tried one massive lunge at Turn 12, as the enormous Thai audience watched on. Going slightly wide, an opportunistic Marquez didn’t settle for a safe second and sliced back through to take the win on the run to the line, whilst the Petronas Yamaha SRT outfit had to settle for second. Maverick Viñales couldn’t get in on the action and in the end, was third.
Behind them, a magnanimous Andrea Dovizioso held on to fourth and Alex Rins took fifth from tenth on the grid. Franco Morbidelli was secured a sixth place ahead of Joan Mir, whilst Valentino Rossi could only manage eighth. Completing the top ten were Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) and Takaaki Nakagami in tenth.
The second race of the day at the PTT Thailand Grand Prix saw the Moto2 Championship fight ignite in the heat of Buriram at the Chang International Circuit. With the rain still holding off despite dark clouds, it was an intriguing race which saw Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) storm to a first victory in almost a year, whilst Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Iker Lecuona (American Racing KTM) locked out the podium places on a day where Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) had no answer for his opposition, losing points in his championship lead.
Lights-out and down to Turn 1, it was front row starter Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) who stole the march but went wide on the exit of Turn 1, allowing Alex Marquez to come back through on the blast down into Turn 3. Luca Marini was soon through into third at the final corner, whilst Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Augusto Fernandez (FlexBox HP 40) and Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) queued up behind. It was a disastrous start for home-hero Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), who started 12th but was 21st after Lap 1.
The Italian soon got through into second and Marini now set off after Alex Marquez at the front of the field. Nagashima was a sitting duck and by the end of the second lap of the race, Iker Lecuona and Remy Gardner – Nagashima’s teammate – had got ahead of the Japanese rider, who once again was struggling with race pace after a strong qualifying. The Japanese rider would go on to fade further.
Lecuona may have got third occupied but he wanted more, and he set off after Alex Marquez. Luca Marini hammered in relentlessly fast lap times, the only rider able to go into the 1’36.0 bracket whilst the battled heated up behind him. Marquez soon found himself caught by Lecuona, with Brad Binder and Augusto Fernandez closing in behind.
Further back, the ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team began to fade away, with Remy Gardner not being able to do anything about Jorge Martin in front of him. Soon, the Australian had Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) in front of him, who in-turn was struggling, witnessing his Moto2™ title aspirations going away. Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46) was up to eighth ahead of Gardner too.
With 10 laps to go, the battle for second erupted and after numerous laps of stalking, Lecuona made his move for second stick at Turn 6, just half a lap after he first tried at the final corner. Marquez was now vulnerable and had to resist the onslaught of the chasing pack. However, he wasn’t able to hold off Brad Binder and the South African got ahead of Marquez two laps later. The fight between Marquez and title rival Fernandez was now on the horizon.
Luca Marini was untroubled out front and Lecuona had now been closed down by Binder for second. However, the championship battle was for fourth, with Fernandez and Marquez beginning to scrap and swap paint with just five laps left. The two duelled but at the same time, Binder was now challenging Lecuona, with the two fighting hard over the podium allowing Fernandez to sniff an opportunity at the podium.
On the final lap, an imperious Luca Marini romped to his first win in 2019 but the final corner in Buriram provided yet more drama, as Brad Binder went around the outside of Lecuona to make it to second when it counted, whilst Lecuona was just about able to hold onto to his first podium of the season. Augusto Fernandez pinched fourth whilst Alex Marquez had to settle for fifth.
Behind the top five there was plenty of action, with Jorge Martin taking sixth and his best result of 2019. Lüthi came home in seventh ahead of Bulega, whilst unbelievably, from the depths of despair on the opening lap when he was down in 21st, Somkiat Chantra had some how put in one of the rides of the day to finish in ninth, pipping Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) at the final corner to get the home crowd going crazy in the stands. Second in the Championship coming into the round, Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) suffered a wretched race and finished down in 17th.
There were crashes throughout the race, including Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Temporary Forward) at Turn 5, soon to be joined a few laps later Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS). Early Championship leader Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP 40) also crashed, having run inside the top ten before tumbling at Turn 12. Britain’s Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) had a miserable end to a testing round, as he crashed out at the fast Turn 8 in the final third of the race.
An enthralling Moto3 World Championship rumbled into the PTT Thailand Grand Prix with great anticipation and expectation. Starting from pole position for the first time in his career, Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) looked to get the better of his rivals in order to achieve success at a track he’d never seen before. However, a dramatic race happened nonetheless, going down to the final lap, and it would be Albert Arenas (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team) who snatched victory, ahead of Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) and Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0), who took a career-first Moto3™ rostrum.
Before the race even started, Gabriel Rodrigo was declared unfit after a big crash in morning Warm Up.
The race settled down for a couple of laps before exploding, with Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) hitting the front on Lap 4 at Turn 3, sweeping majestically around the outside of Ramirez. The Misano race winner held the lead and upped the pace, before a lap later, Lorenzo Dalla Port (Leopard Racing) came to the fore from tenth on the grid, up to second and block-passing Albert Arenas at the final corner.
On Lap 7, Dalla Porta was back in the lead, showing his race pace strength, whilst Tony Arbolino was now back in the mix and chasing after his Championship rival. Further back, it was Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power) who began barging his way through, entering the top ten and looking to head further forwards.
A lap later however at the notorious final corner, Binder barged too much and wiped out second in the Championship Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse). The Championship race had now been blown wide open, and Lorenzo Dalla Porta was still out front.
With 11 laps left to go and with the race for the title well and truly alive, Dalla Porta, Arbolino and Ramirez all knew they had to take advantage of Canet’s misfortune. However, the likes of Arenas, Dennis Foggia (SKY Racing Team VR46), Darryn Binder, Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) and his teammate Kaito Toba wanted to take advantage and make names for themselves in the heat of Thailand. Tony Arbolino was the next title contender to suffer bad luck, as he appeared to run wide on the exit of Turn 5, securing his glove back on. Plummeting to 20th, he had work to do.
Two laps later, Binder was sanctioned with a ride through penalty for is instigation of the final corner accident which ended Canet’s hopes of victory. Canet was back out on track but was not on the lead lap. On Lap 7, Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) crashed out of the top ten with a front-end tumble at Turn 1, although he was relatively unscathed.
Just six laps to go and it was a Leopard Racing 1-2, as Lorenzo Dalla Porta led Marcos Ramirez, whilst further down the leading group, Andrea Migno (Mugen Race), who was fastest on Friday, began his surge to the front and was up to fourth at the final corner. The Italian had set his fastest lap of the race too, emphasizing his late race pace as he joined the party at the front of the field. Celestino Vietti was also still in the hunt, in sixth place and keeping himself out of trouble and still in with a chance of victory. The top nine were covered by just 1.1s as the battle of Buriram intensified and the fastest riders began to edge clear of the rest of the field.
In the final two laps, the elbows came out and the gloves came off, as Arenas duelled with Dalla Porta and Alonso Lopez. Andrea Migno was up to fourth but at the start of the final lap, Ai Ogura was wiped out by the Italian out at Turn 1 and for the second race in three rounds, the Italian and the Japanese were in the gravel together on the final lap.
The battle for the win was now alive, with Lopez hitting the front at Turn 4 but, Dalla Porta and Arenas both took him back. At the final corner, Dalla Porta tried to make a move on Arenas but ran wide on the exit, giving Arenas the perfect run to the line to take the verdict and become the 11th winner of 2019 in Moto3, ahead of Dalla Porta – who extends his championship lead to 22 points – whilst Alonso Lopez achieved a first career podium. Marcos Ramirez, who led in the early stages, came home for fourth whilst Foggia completed the top five ahead of teammate Vietti and Kaito Toba.