It was another master-class performance by Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez, who took the first MotoGP win ever at the Chang International circuit in Thailand.
In front of more than 100.000 spectators Marquez’s seventh victory of the season is also the 68th of his career, putting him equal with Jorge Lorenzo as the fifth-most winning rider across all classes. The reigning world champion also became the first ever rider in MotoGP to come through qualifying one, set pole position and win the race in one weekend.
It was Marquez who made the best start from the lights, leading into Turn 1 followed by Movistar Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi, Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso and LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow. On lap four Marquez seemed to relinquish the lead easily, letting Rossi and Dovizioso through. The Ducati rider wasn’t sitting behind his Yamaha rival for too long and made his move on lap ten followed by Marquez with Rossi now dropped to third. At this point there was an eight bike freight train snaking it’s way around the 2.83mile Chang International circuit but it was all to change with ten laps to go as the front three upped the pace. Again it looked as though the podium would be decided between Marquez, Dovizioso and Rossi but the Italian’s team-mate Maverick Vinales was on the move and on lap 20 he had passed the nine times champion for third and the ‘Doctor’ had to settle for fourth at the flag with Marquez and Dovizioso still slugging out first. Marquez’s win came down to the last corner of the last lap after Dovizioso couldn’t get the Ducati stopped and the Spaniard did enough to cross the line in front of his great rival with Vinales third. Now he can wrap up the title at the next round in Japan.
Marquez said after the race. “Of course I’m very, very happy today because it’s the first time I’ve beaten Dovi in this way. We were very equal, and my strategy was to try and attack in order to open a gap and avoid having it come down to the last lap. But Dovi had a very good pace and I was struggling with the front tyre, so I wasn’t able. Instead, I just tried to manage the tyres and stick to him. Honestly, I wasn’t so confident going into the final lap because I’ve lost many head-to-head finishes with him in the past. But this time, we swapped roles. I used Dovi’s style and Dovi used Marquez’s style and that worked to overtake him on the corner exit. It was a great feeling to race in front of all the Thai fans, who cheered and supported all of us riders equally, really enjoying the sport and making me feel good over the whole weekend. I’m really thankful to them. Now the first match ball will be in Japan, which is the most important race for Honda as it’s their only home Grand Prix. Of course we’ll try our best there, but if it’s not possible, the main target is still to achieve the title at some point.”
Dovizioso added. “I’m very happy with this second place, even though I lost out on the win right at the final corner. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much idea about Marquez’s strengths and weaknesses because I was almost always in the lead. I tried to counter his pass at Turn 5 but lost a bit of ground and even though I still managed to make up some at the final corner, I wasn’t close enough to pass him.”
Third place finisher Vinales was delighted to be back on the podium commenting. “I was stronger than I expected in the race. I got stuck behind Cal and fought a little with Valentino, and after that I felt really good. The bike was working well, so I'm very pleased about that. For sure I'm happy to finish so close to the top, to be on the podium, and to be able to recover nearly one second at the end, all under difficult conditions in which we used to suffer. I'm honestly very pleased, because the work we've done this weekend was done in a good way. It was hot and slippery, but we were still there, so we have to take this race in Thailand as an example and work even harder for the next race. I had a lot of confidence in the front, especially on braking. Let's see if we can manage this again for the next races. If we can do it again in Japan, it will mean we have improved.”
Francesco Bagnaia rode the Sky Racing Team VR46 to a magnificent seventh win of 2018 at the PTT Thailand Grand Prix, finishing ahead of teammate Luca Marini by 1.5 seconds after the latter got the better of Bagnaia’s title rival Miguel Oliveira on the Red Bull KTM Ajo on the final lap.
Fabio Di Giannantonio claimed his second career victory on the Del Conca Gresini Moto3 in a sensational Moto3 race. The Italian produced a stunning final lap to beat compatriot Lorenzo Dalla Porta into second as major drama unfolded at the last corner with Enea Bastianini taking out pole sitter and Championship contender Marco Bezzecchi. That meant points leader Jorge Martin extended his lead with a phenomenal fourth place finish despite struggling with the injury to his left hand.