The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team venture out to uncharted territory this weekend as they participate in the very first PTT Thailand Grand Prix, held this weekend. Both Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales will ride to the limit to be the first MotoGP rider to plant their flag at the Chang International Circuit.
Rossi is keen to head back to Buriram after the test held there in February. Knowing how passionate the local fans are about motorsports, he wants to put on a great show at the very first MotoGP round held in Thailand.
The Italian is fully aware that the hot and humid conditions at the track will make it hard work, but he will spare no effort to bridge the 15-point gap and reclaim second place in the championship standings.
Viñales is also highly motivated to be back on track and build on the results from the three-day Thai test. Though he initially struggled at this track during the pre-season, he still found the circuit to be a great fit to his riding style and hopes to make it work to his advantage the coming weekend.
The Spaniard is currently tied in fourth place in the championship rankings with Jorge Lorenzo and would like nothing better than to surpass his rival after the Thai round.
Designed by German architect Hermann Tilke, the Chang International Circuit opened in 2014. Only one year later the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship started racing at the venue, and this year the track will also see MotoGP making its debut there. The circuit is located around 410km northeast from the country’s capital of Bangkok, close to the town of Buriram. Its 4.554km layout includes a 1km longest straight, and five left and seven right turns. However, it’s the typically hot and humid weather that will be the key challenge for the riders, who will give their all to please the up to 100,000 passionate fans in the grandstands.
Championship: 3rd – Points: 159
“After so many European races, it’s time to go to Thailand. We did a pre-season test there in February. Buriram is not one of my favourite circuits but it will be another important weekend to improve our bike and a good opportunity to meet the Asian fans, who are very passionate about MotoGP. As always, we will do our best to make it a good race weekend. My goal is to return to the fight for the podium and get some good results overseas.”
Championship: 5th – Points: 130
“The Grand Prix of Aragon was sincerely a GP to forget. Now I want to just look forward and be as focused as possible to finish the season in the best possible position. We will start the Asia tour by going to Thailand first. The Chang circuit is very demanding because of the high temperatures. But it makes me very happy to ride there as it will be the first time we get to race in Buriram. We were already there during the pre-season test, but we did not go very fast, because we were still looking for the correct set-up of the bike. Still we’ll arrive with great expectations. We want to improve day by day.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director
“It’s time to start the final stages of the MotoGP season, beginning with the race in Buriram, the first round of the quadruple overseas leg. During the pre-season test we were very impressed with the track and the facilities of this new circuit on our calendar. Unfortunately, we came a few hours short during the test to fully complete our schedule, so this weekend we have important work to do. We want to find a good basic setting as soon as possible, to make our riders feel comfortable and enable them to fight competitively in front of the Thai crowds who come to support our team.”
Monster Yamaha Tech3 Pair Eager to Kick Off the Flyaway Journey
This weekend’s PTT Thailand Grand Prix initiates a very crucial and demanding part of the 2018 MotoGP World Championship, being a new addition in the calendar, plus the first of four races in Asia and Australia. Following a positive test in February, Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Johann Zarco can’t wait to be back at the Chang International Circuit, hoping to turn his fortunes around and being able to fight for the glory of the best independent rider.
Nearly eight months ago, Hafizh Syahrin experienced his MotoGP debut at the new venue, where after Monster Yamaha Tech3 with all partners decided to give the Malaysian rider a chance for the full season. The talented rookie didn’t disappoint and aims to return to the place close to his home country and impress his fans in claiming back as many points as possible on Franco Morbidelli, who actually leads the Rookie of the Year classification.
Championship: 8th – Points: 112
“The Chang International Circuit is a nice track, which I could see already in February when we had three days of testing there. The last memory from this place is pretty positive, so it can be the time now to come back to a good feeling and a decent position to fight with the fastest guys again. I would love to be competitive on that track. I was feeling good there and also the others didn’t have an additional test there, so they maybe have a smaller advantage than during the last races. I’m happy to go there. We start a long trip with almost four races in a row, therefore it will be important to manage my body and my mood well, but I’m sure that these two things are going well. I think the public will be so awesome supporting all the riders. I can’t wait to get to Buriram.”
Championship: 18th – Points: 24
“I have great memories regarding Thailand, because in the beginning of the year I got to know that I’ll be testing a MotoGP bike at the Chang International Circuit, where I finally rode the M1 for the very first time. I had a good test and was just less than two seconds from the top. Now I hope this track can give me an extra boost for this weekend, as I really look forward to arrive in Buriram and also because it’s the beginning of the Asian rounds before the season finale in Valencia. The last two, three races I was struggling. We know that we face a tough situation together with Yamaha, so I hope they can fix something to give us the chance to fight for some better results again. I wish I can do well and I try to come back to the points scoring positions. I still believe in myself, the team is working incredibly hard, so we keep on doing this and never give up.”
Monster Yamaha Tech3 – Team Manager
“Finally, we are all ready to fly to Buriram for the Thai Grand Prix. It’s an event everybody was waiting for. I think the winter test went really, really well. There were a lot of people for a test and I can imagine that the organization expects a record crowd, so everybody is flying there with a very positive frame of mind, because clearly it’s going to be an exciting round, but also a bit like unknown territory. For Monster Yamaha Tech3 the test was very positive, Johann was flying there and was the fastest guy when he stopped. Dani Pedrosa passed him for a few thousands when we were already on the road back to Bangkok. The feeling was great, which was unfortunately back in February. Since then a lot of things changed, many bikes improved, so we don’t really know what to expect in terms of competitiveness in comparison to our competitors, but clearly the feeling we had there with both, Johann and Hafizh, who was on the MotoGP Yamaha YZR-M1 for the very first time in his life. Clearly, we are excited, happy and we know how important MotoGP is for Thai supporters. They are hot and the atmosphere is going to be something unbelievable. I think we won’t forget the very first Thai Grand Prix, which will for sure be something very special. The circuit is ok, some riders think it’s a bit boring, but our guys liked it very much. It’s safe, the paddock is big enough to receive everybody in a professional way, so we just can’t wait to be there and to enjoy with our supporters. Indeed, it is a very strong market for the motorcycle manufacturers, including Yamaha, so we will have a lot of marketing and media operations to do there, but this is fun and exciting to go to a new venue like that where we know there’s a lot of expectations, so hopefully Johann and Hafizh will fly the Monster Yamaha Tech3 flag very high and we can have something to celebrate Sunday afternoon.”
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