Encouraging top 10 result for Miller in maiden Thai grand prix.
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez took another step closer to the MotoGP crown in the first-ever PTT Thailand Grand Prix, edging by Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso in a stunning final lap.
The battle in Buriram went down to the wire between Marquez and Dovizioso, with Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Vinales claiming a valiant comeback podium in third.
It was Marquez who got the holeshot from pole as the lights went out, with Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) tucked in behind his arch nemesis from P2 on the grid. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) launched well to slot into third, before Dovizioso re-took P3 into turn three as the front three in qualifying held station.
Everyone held position before Rossi got past Marquez on the run down to turn three, ‘The Doctor’ back up the sharp-end and looking strong to control the pace. With tyre life a major factor in the soaring Thailand temperatures, no one wanted to force their hand.
That was until lap 11, when Rossi couldn’t get his M1 firing out the first corner and the Ducati of Dovi and Honda of Marquez swept past the nine-time world champion – the number 04 emerging in charge of controlling the 200mph freight-train.
With lap-times fluctuating and a front group of eight now packed together, Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was the man to lead Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) up to trail Vinales in fifth. With 11 laps to go, Dovizioso upped the pace ahead of Marquez and Rossi.
Then, lap-times slowed again as Vinales bridged the gap to the leading trio. Pedrosa crashed out at turn five with eight laps remaining as he and Zarco got a whiff of a potential podium, the duo closing down the leaders by half a second on the previous lap before the race then entered a critical stage at the front.
Dovizioso and Marquez, who started to fight it out for the lead and pull away, with Rossi then starting to lose touch as team-mate Vinales moved through to get a front-row seat for another Ducati vs Honda battle. With four to go, Marquez played his first hand, but he ran wide in an attempted pass, allowing Dovizioso back through.
The move set the scene for a breathtaking final three laps. On the same lap, Marquez sliced his way through at turn eight, but Dovi snapped straight back and it was déjà vu a lap later as the Repsol Honda grabbed the lead again but there was no way through for the Ducati this time at turn nine.
A pass into turn 12 was made to stick heading onto the last lap however, before the chosen corner for a Marquez assault proved to be turn five, a great move from the six-time world champion seeing Dovizioso unable to squeeze back under. This set us up for another final corner epic between the two.
Dovi got the run out turn 11 to brake late into the final corner and get alongside Marquez, but the Italian couldn’t quite drop anchor quick enough, with a flash of orange cutting back underneath the Italian as Marquez did exactly what he’d been victim to in Austria in 2017, Motegi that same season and Qatar at the start of 2018.
The Spaniard crossed the line just ahead and the roles were reversed in perfect symmetry. The two did have some company as Vinales was just 0.270s away from the win in third as he got back on the rostrum and almost managed to capitalise on the last corner drama, with Rossi coming home fourth as he faded slightly in the latter stages.
Fellow M1 and leading Independent Team rider Zarco got the better of Rins to close out the top five, with Crutchlow ending the race seventh, finishing 0.171s ahead of Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Team). The two Alma Pramac Racing riders completed the top 10 led by Danilo Petrucci from Australia’s Jack Miller.
In Moto2, Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) claimed a magnificent seventh win of the year to claim the 800th GP win for an Italian rider, finishing ahead of teammate Luca Marini by 1.5 seconds after the latter got the better of Bagnaia’s title rival Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) on the final lap. Remy Gardner rode to 12th for Tech3.
Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) claimed his second career victory in what was an explosive Moto3 race, producing a stunning final lap to beat compatriot Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) into second as major drama unfolded at the last corner.
Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing) took out pole-setter and championship contender Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PruestelGP). which meant points leader Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) extended his lead with a phenomenal P4 finish despite serious struggles with his left hand in Thailand.