2019 Thailand MotoGP Results and News
MotoGP Race – 26 Laps
Marc Marquez had done it again. His eighth World Championship, sixth in the premier class, was achieved in the best possible way.
He didn’t need to win the race. But the Repsol Honda star didn’t fancy being over-shadowed by the man most likely – eventually – to depose him.
2019 Thailand MotoGP Results and News
As at Misano two races ago, Marquez shadowed brilliant rookie Fabio Quartararo’s Petronas Yamaha until the closing lap, showing the brilliant 20-year-old French rookie his front wheel a couple of times.
He pounced on the last lap; Quartararo returned the move into the tight final corner. But Marquez had judged it right. He went by again on the cut-back. After coming off second-best in Austria and Silverstone, this was one last-corner battle he wasn’t going to lose. He won by 0.171 of a second.
His triumph, ninth win of a year in which he has not finished lower than second, came after a bruising crash on Friday that saw him hospitalised for a body scan. With no fractures, he could proceed.
“I was planning this weekend to win the race … doesn’t matter about the championship. Fabio was very fast, and he took a gap in the middle. But then I started to study him, and I was able to win.”
Quartararo had to be happy and proud after a narrow defeat, pushing the MotoGP king to the line in only his 15th premier-class race.
“Of course I’m happy – really proud of my team and my race. I fought until the last corner. If I hadn’t tried that move, I wouldn’t go home happy. It’s coming soon.”
Maverick Vinales (Monster Yamaha) was again third, again closing in the late laps, but too far behind to make a difference. He could still say: “We three were at another level today.”
The last mathematical rival for the title, Andrea Dovizioso, needed to finish ahead of Marquez to make him wait – but the best the Mission Winnow Ducati rider could do was fourth, more than five seconds adrift, and fending off Alex Rins’s Ecstar Suzuki.
The pair had finally gapped Franco Morbidelli’s sixth-placed Petronas Yamaha; while Joan Mir (Ecstar Suzuki) had dropped out of touch, almost repassed on the line by a troubled Valentino Rossi (Monster Yamaha).
Second factory Ducati rider Danilo Petrucci was a lone ninth; Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) held off Pecco Bagnaia (Pramac Ducati) for tenth.
Second-row qualifier Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati) was 14th, coming through from a pit-lane start after stalling on the line.
Marquez is now unassailable, with 325 points, 110 more than Dovizioso’s 215, with four races remaining. Rins (167) is under threat from Vinales (163); Petrucci and Rossi have 162 and 145.
Moto2 Race – 24 laps
Luca Marini looked serene as he took his first win of the season, better than two seconds clear of a fantastic four-bike fight for second. The SKYVR46 Kalex rider credited a settings breakthrough at the last round for a clearly superior performance, underlined by a new lap record.
Behind him, ultra-close practice and qualifying was matched by the fiercest of battles.
Championship leader Alex Marquez (EG VDS Kalex) had led away from pole and four the first two laps; but fast-starting Iker Lecuona was close behind after Marini escaped, the American Racing KTM rider joined before half distance by Red Bull KTM’s Brad Binder; while soon after it Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP40 Kalex) joined the group.
Marquez, with a championship lead to protect, fought off several attacks before succumbing to Lecuona finally on lap 14. Next past was Binder, and with four laps to go Fernandez was also ahead for the first time over the line.
Positions changed several times, but by the finish second was between the KTMs, and Binder finally succeeded in getting ahead of Lecuona for keeps at the final corner. The Spaniard fought back and almost high-sided in the attempt, allowing Fernandez to pull almost alongside, with Marquez right behind.
First-time front-row starter Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM) was a best-yet fifth.
Five seconds away, veteran Thomas Luthi (Dynavolt Kalex) managed to get back to the front of what had been another big group for seventh, finally dropping off Nicolo Bulega (SKY VR46 Kalex). Less than a second behind local star Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Kalex) narrowly claimed ninth over Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM), Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Kalex) and (a second down) Remy Gardner (ONEXOX Kalex).
Jorge Navarro (Speed Up) in 17th failed to score, but Marquez only extended his lead slightly. The table is Marquez 224, Fernandez 184, Binder 180, Luthi 178 and Navarro 175.
Moto3 Race – 23 laps
Albert Arenas (Gaviota KTM) took a first win of the year in a dramatic and crash-hit first race of the day. But second place for Lorenzo Dalla Porta gave a potentially crucial 20 points to the Leopard Honda rider, as his main title rivals suffered sundry misfortunes.
Aron Canet (Sterilgarda KTM) was one of three victims of a collision under braking early in the race. John McPhee (Petronas Honda) and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Honda) the others, while the perpetrator Darren Binder (CIP Green Power KTM), who had forged through from 25th on the grid, was given a rather harsh ride-through penalty.
Tony Arbolino (Snipers Honda) dropped out of the lead group with severe cramp in his right wrist. He dropped to 20th, but recovered to 10th at the end.
Arenas took the lead from long-time leader Dalla Porta on the last lap. The Italian dived inside into the last corner, but the Spaniard got ahead again by 0.231 of a second over the line.
Alonso Lopez (EG Honda) was third, his first podium, with second Leopard rider Marcos Ramirez fourth, after riding wing man to Dalla Porta for much of the race.
A last lap collision split the front group, as Andrea Migno (Mugen KTM) tried to go between Ai Ogura (Team Asia Honda) and Dennis Foggia (SKY VR46 KTM), lost the front, and knocked Ogura down, the second time in three races he has taken the impressive Japanese rookie out. Ogura had earlier set fastest lap coming through from 18th on the grid.
Foggia was fifth, half a second ahead of maiden pole starter Celestino Vietti, his team-mate.
Dalla Porta leads Canet by 22 points, 204 to 182; then Arbolino (161), Ramirez (136) and McPhee (126).
Late drama in qualifying: Marc Marquez’s bid for pole thwarted as he slides off in his second crash in two days … only to see his qualifying conqueror Fabio Quartararo also slip off, a little further round the same Turn 5 corner.
2019 Thailand MotoGP Results and News
The Petronas Yamaha rider had already put himself on pole; and while Marquez was going fast enough to depose him when he fell, it hardly mattered.
Quartararo’s fourth pole in his rookie season – his ninth front-row start – put him at the head of three Yamahas in the top four. His new record lap of 1m 20.719 was enough to keep him just over a tenth ahead of late-comer Maverick Vinales on the factory Monster Yamaha.
Marquez stayed third, his Repsol Honda a similar interval behind.
“I was on an amazing lap when I crashed, looking for the limit,” said Quartararo. “But I already had a good lap from before.”
A happy Vinales said: “I missed a tenth with a small mistake – I should have been faster. But the front row is important.”
And Marquez likewise. “I am happy with how the bike is working and the rhythm. Then I pushed too much – but Valentino and Fabio also crashed.”
Rossi (Monster Yamaha) had indeed fallen, on his first run, and while he made it back to the pits for another try, he ended up ninth, on the far end of row three.
It was second independent-team Petronas Yamaha rider Franco Morbidelli in fourth, backing up a strong performance in free practice, and heading a pair of Ducatis – Danilo Petrucci on the factory machine, and Pramac rider Jack Miller.
Only then, heading row three, was Marquez’s last remaining title rival, Andrea Dovizioso, fully nine tenths of a second down on pole. Dovi needs to finish ahead of Marquez tomorrow to prevent the Spaniard tying up his sixth MotoGP championship with four races to spare.
Joan Mir (Ecstar Suzuki) was eighth, with team-mate Alex Rins tenth, three hundredths down on Rossi.
Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM), who like Petrucci came through from Q1, qualified 11th, ahead of his brother Aleix on the Aprilia.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) was best of the rest; Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda) was 19th.
Championship leader Alex Marquez took his fifth pole of the season, all in the last seven races, as the EG VDS Kalex rider edges ever closer to securing the championship … he currently has a 38-point lead over Speed Up rider Jorge Navarro, who ended up 21st, unable to come through from a rain-hit Q1 session.
Q2 had dried after a very local shower interrupted the previous session, but the lingering conditions meant times were not quite as sensationally close as the day before, with only the top 17 inside one second. Yesterday, it was the top 24.
Marquez cited having good rhythm as well as a fast lap as key for the race; while second-fastest Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX Kalex), on his career-second front row, said that “this must be my favourite track”.
Class rookie Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM) was third, the Moto3 champion’s first front row, demonstrating his growing confidence in the bigger class. ^I knew I could qualify well, but I didn’t expect that lap,” he said.
This pushed yesterday’s free practice leader Luca Marini (SKY VR46 Kalex) to fourth, ahead of second ONEXOX rider Remy Gardner and erstwhile title challenger Augusto Fernandez; with Marquez’s team-mate Xavi Vierge leading row three.
A dry Q2 climaxed with a frantic session-end gallop ending in a career-first pole for SKY VR46 KTM rookie Celestino Vietti.
Times were of course ultra-close, with Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Honda) barely a tenth behind, and Gaviota KTM’s Albert Arenas slotting into to third.
Qatar winner Kaito Toba (Team Asia Honda) heads row two from Alonso Lopez (EG Honda) and title challenger Aron Canet (Sterilgarda KTM); with free practice leader Andrea Migno’s KTM heading row three.
Current narrow points leader Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Honda) was tenth, but with a potential penalty for ninth-fastest Tony Arbolino (Snipers Honda) after baulking other riders on the straight, he may be promoted to row three.
Blazing heat notwithstanding, forecasts of tropical rain for tomorrow morning threw special emphasis on the first day of free practice at Thailand’s Chang circuit at Buriram – and underlined hopes of a race as close as last year’s first-ever thriller there.
Who’s In, Who’s Out?
Misano Moto2 injury victims Mattia Pasini and Marcel Schrotter were both back in action at Buriram, the latter after surgery to repair a collar-bone broke in four places; and Dimas Ekky Pratama was also back, after missing seven races suffering from lingering concussion after a race-morning tangle at Assen.
But the Moto3 entry list was still suffering, with new replacements for Misano absentees Antonelli and Fenati, plus for Jaume Masia, injured a week later at Aragon. They are respectively Kevin Zannoni, Julian Jose Garcia and Davide Pizzoli.
- Fenati, who had been expected to return to Moto2 next year, will instead stay in Moto3, after signing up to replace Aron Canet in Max Biaggi’s Sterilgarda KTM team. Canet, a strong title candidate this year, is moving up to Moto2.
Petrucci’s Place on Factory Ducati Squad in Question
With Danilo Petrucci struggling with his confidence and to return to the race-winning form he showed at the Italian GP at the start of June, there are growing signs that the factory will again be considering Jack Miller to take the second seat in the official team.
Earlier in the season, the factory made no secret that the 2020 slot alongside Andrea Dovizioso was a choice between incumbent Petrucci and satellite Pramac teamster Miller. The decision went the way of the Italian after his maiden Mugello win, followed by a podium at Montmelo.
Since that time, however, he has been erratic; while Miller – who also rides the latest 2019 factory Desmosedici GP19 – has been twice on the podium in the last five races, and had impressed observers with his growing maturity. This is both for his well-judged and patient ride to third in Aragon a fortnight ago, and also for his behaviour during the controversy over his contract renewal, where it seemed for a time he might not only lose his factory bike, but even his seat to Lorenzo.
Petrucci attended the Italian factory for a special meeting after finishing 12th at Aragon, in an attempt to reboot his confidence.
In Thailand, team manager Davide Tardozzi told Dorna’s cameras: “Jack very interesting for a future factory ride.”
Coming Tire Test
Michelin has arranged an extra tyre test session on Friday at the forthcoming Australian GP, to gather data on a new-spec rear slick.
The 20-minute session will be held after the end of official free practice – but only if it is dry.
Phillip Island was chosen because it is notoriously hard on tyres, In 2013, after it had been resurfaced, the race had to be shortened and split into two, with a mandatory tyre stop. At the time, Bridgestone was the supplier of control tyres.
2019 Thailand MotoGP Results and News
It also emphasized the strengthening Yamaha fight-back, taking the top three times.
More than anything, it underlined the heroic strength of champion elect Marc Marquez. The Repsol Honda rider came back from a huge and bruising crash in the morning that sent him to hospital for checks, ran more laps than any other riders, showed strong race pace, and secured a safe sixth-placed route through to tomorrow’s Q2.
Basically, Marquez needs only to beat Dovizioso to secure his sixth MotoGP crown. In today’s time sheets, Dovi (Mission Winnow Ducati) was eighth, less than two-tenths slower.
It was again Fabio Quartararo on top on day one, less than four tenths outside the absolute track record, at 1m 30.404.
The satellite Petronas Yamaha rider narrowly shaded morning leader Maverick Vinales on the Monster factory bike; while Petronas team-mate Franco Morbidelli pushed though to third to complete the Yamaha lock-out.
Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati) came through to fourth, pushing Valentino Rossi (Monster Yamaha) to fifth, less than four tenths down on the top time.
Then came Marquez; with Aleix Espargaro putting the Aprilia an impressive seventh, ahead of Dovizioso.
Joan Mir (Ecstar Suzuki) was ninth, less than a hundredth ahead of team-mate Alex Rins, the only other rider to match Marquez’s tally of 23 laps.
First out of the top ten was Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati). Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) was also dropped out – to 13th – in the final flurry. The still struggling Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda) was 1.5 seconds off the lead, in 20th. It was at this track a year ago that a mechanical failure on his Ducati threw him off violently, breaking his wrist and starting the succession of injuries that have troubled him ever since.
The first Triumph outing in Thailand put the top 24 Moto2 riders within one second of leader Luca Marini (SKY VR46 Kalex). The Italian led a phalanx of Kalex chassis filling the top six places.
Thai rider Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Kalex), so impressive in his first time on European tracks, missed much of the session with a mechanical glitch, but still slotted into a wildly popular second overall.
ONEXOX team-mates Tetsuta Nagashima and Remy Gardner were third and fourth, Nagashima on his morning time, when he led the first session.
Then came points leader Alex Marquez (EG-VDS Kalex), just 0.077 seconds down on leader Marini’s 1m 35.956, a new outright record.
Rookie Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Kalex) was sixth; then came the best of thew KTMs, with American Racing teamster Iker Lecuona ahead of Red Bull rider Brad Binder. Erstwhile title challenger Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP40 Kalex) was ninth, with top Speed Up rider Jorge Navarro completing the top ten.
American Joe Roberts (American Racing KTM) was 27th.
Italian Mugen KTM rider Andrea Migno topped the sheets, at the head of a trio whose morning times were better than in the afternoon. Alongside him, Honda riders Tony Arbolino and Tatsuki Suzuki had already made sure of safe passage into Q2.
Should the forecast rain arrive tomorrow, today’s top 14 riders will make the cut. Fourth today was Gabriel Rodrigo (Honda) Dennis Foggia and Jakub Kornfeil (both KTM), although the last-named faces a 12-place grid penalty for an earlier “irresponsible riding” infraction.
Championship challenger Aron Canet (KTM) was 14th, narrow points leader Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Honda) was 12th.
Marc Marquez Suffers Big Crash
One day after talking about his best-yet MotoGP season and with his sixth championship all but tucked up in his back pocket, Marc Marquez suffered his first heavy crash of the season, and was stretchered away to hospital.
Unlike his usual harmless front-wheel washouts, this was a vicious high-side, occurring on his out lap as he went out to secure his position for tomorrow’s qualifying. With bad weather forecast, the morning times would potentially decide candidates for the top-ten Q2.
The crash was on Turn 7, the first right-hander for a spell, the champion-elect was at cruising speed, but as he tipped into the corner with the throttle closed, the bike flipped sideways and threw him high into the air, to land heavily on his left-hand side.
His Repsol Honda was severely damaged: the back tyre ripped clean off; the rider stayed on all fours, in obvious pain, for some time, before gingerly limping off with the help of marshals. He walked from the ambulance to the track medical centre, but was stretchered out soon afterwards to be taken to hospital.
Early reports were of lower back and left leg pain. An MRI scan at hospital, according to Repsol team manager Alberto Puig, found no fractures, although the rider had painful bruises. “We were lucky today,” said Puig.
Although the obvious culprit would be that his new rear soft tyre, fitted to set a good time, Puig said that in fact it was up to temperature. Rumour-mongers speculated about a mechanical failure, but Puig suggested that the tyre had picked up dust during a run off the line on the previous straight.
Although Marquez was back to ride in the afternoon, immediately setting fastest time in the early stages and staying out for a convincing long run, the injury could jeopardise his chances of tying up the championship with four races to spare. He needs only to finish two points ahead of Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso, but this was already by no means certain, at a circuit where he finished barely a tenth ahead of his rival last year.
Compatriot Pol Espargaro was injured in a similar off-throttle high-side at the previous round in Aragon, also on his out lap on the Red Bull KTM. With the throttle closed, electronics cannot help save this type of crash, usually blamed on a cold tyre.
The day before, Marquez had described his 2019 progress as probably his best season since joining the class and winning the rookie title in 2013. “In 2014, maybe the numbers were better. “This year I have had very good consistency. I attacked in circuits where I was strong, and rode for points at other circuits.”
In 2014, his second title year, he won the first ten races, then added three more. This year he has won eight of the first 13 races, but never finished lower than second, with one non-finish when he crashed out of the lead in Texas.
Rossi Confirms New Crew Chief
Valentino Rossi confirmed in Thailand that he was to change his crew chief again, in another bid to reverse his declining fortunes.
But unlike the move at the end of 2013, when his unexpected move took long-time ally Jeremy Burgess by surprise, this time he said it was by mutual agreement, after discussion with Burgess’s replacement Sylvano Galbusera.
Galbusera is to switch to a less stressful role with Yamaha’s test team, Rossi said; while he is to take on the much younger Davide Munoz stepping up from Rossi’s SKY VR46 Moto2 team.
Burgess had been with Rossi throughout his MotoGP career, with Honda, Yamaha, Ducati and back to Yamaha. But with only one win in his return year, he sought refreshment by switching to fellow-Italian Galbusera, previously with Yamaha’s superbike team.
Nine wins on the six years since then peaked in 2015 with four; but his last one was more than a year ago, at Assen; and his last podium finish this year was at round three in the USA, where he finally lost the lead to Suzuki’s Alex Rins.
“It looks like we are a little bit stuck,” said Rossi.
“After Misano, we spoke together with Sylvano. I want to do something stronger; also he wants to stay with Yamaha, and try something with less stress and less travel.” At the same time, Yamaha wanted to add strength to their test team.
Munoz, Rossi continued, was currently filling the role with Nicolo Bulega, but last year was chief mechanic to Pecco Bagnaia, who won the Moto2 title.
“He did a good job, and at the end of the year when Pecco was a bit nervous about maybe losing the title to Oliveira, I liked the way he managed the situation.”
However, he added, the move would potentially weaken his Moto2 squad, where his half-brother Luca Marini will continue next year.
Zarco a Yamaha Test Rider in 2020
Johann Zarco’s time in the wilderness is over. Although the double Moto2 champion will not have a full-time MotoGP rider next year, he has been offered the role of official Yamaha tester, and French sources indicate that he has accepted.
Zarco switched to the Red Bull KTM this year, but bright hopes on both sides were soon extinguished with a string of falls, bad results and even worse comments about the RC16. He requested release from his contract at the Austrian GP soon after the summer break, expecting to continue to the end of the season. After two more races, however, KTM dropped him in favour of test rider Mika Kallio.
Yamaha Racing chief Lin Jarvis confirmed that a firm offer had been made, and he expected an announcement “before the end of the flyaway rounds.
“We want to upgrade our test-team programme next year, with more contact between Japan and Europe. We have had very good experience with Zarco in the past, and now he is potentially available it is very interesting for us.”
Zarco’s previous two years in MotoGP were with the Yamaha satellite team, and he was frequently a podium threat, and six times stood on it.
A test-rider can expect to be entered as a wild card, but under current regulation the maximum number of races per rider in one season is three.
Moto3 miscreants took another rap on the knuckles and face increasingly severe penalties, after a fresh round of regulations from the FIM to prevent the dangerous and unedifying spectacle of dawdling on track while waiting for a tow.
There were already strict rules in place, imposing a sliding scale of penalties, from three grid places all the way to a pit-lane start and even disqualification for repeated offenders. Numerically, if a rider exceeded his best lap time by more than 30 percent in three sections, not necessarily consecutive, he would be penalised.
Now the definition of offending has been tightened up. Until now, if a rider ran over track limits onto the green section, that did not count as a slow section. As a result, groups of riders would sometimes affect to have missed their braking point. From now on this will not be allowed.
Another trick now banned has been to run through the new-this-year “long lap” loop. Riders are now enjoined to test the long-lap after the session has ended on the way into the pits.
Disqualification was already on the menu of punishment, but while there have been occasional pit-lane starts, the greater sanction has not been used. It is now, however, one step closer.
On tracks with long straights (the Thai track is one), slipstreaming can cut as much as a second of a Moto3 lap time.
The first penalties were quick in coming, for “irresponsible riding” in FP1. Petronas rider Sasaki was sent to the back of the grid; Kornfeil dropped 12 places.
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