Thailand will host its first MotoGP race at Chang International Circuit in Buriram in October and the three-day second official test of the year will be held at the same venue from tomorrow (Feb 16).
Riders Andrea Iannone, Takaaki Nakagami, Johann Zarco, Jack Miller and Alex Rins yesterday (Feb 14) paid a courtesy call on the prime minister at Government House.
The visiting group was led by Ingacio Sagnier, communications director of Dorna Sports which holds the commercial rights for MotoGP.
“The government hopes the event will help promote the country’s tourism,” Gen Prayut said.
“Sports are important in helping strengthen relations both in the country and overseas. I wish the race becomes successful and the participants be safe.”
The five riders visited the Thai capital yesterday to soak in some culture and get to know the Southeast Asian nation, beginning their day with a trip to the Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun).
The stunning Temple of Dawn is a true jewel of the city, and there the riders were welcomed by a Thai dance display and a traditional puppet exhibition.
The riders then met the prime minister, who thanked them for visiting Thailand.
Gen Prayut also thanked all concerned parties for their role in bringing MotoGP to Thailand, which will be a venue for the event for at least three years.
The prime minister also professed his love for speed and encouraged the riders to ride fast, but stay safe.
He then received a helmet, signed by each one of the riders, from Sagnier, and promised to wear it.
The racers were given some gifts in return, including amulets to keep them safe on track.
Meanwhile, the distance of several Grands Prix on the motorcycle world circuit are to be shortened in a bid to standardise their durations and help television broadcasters, MotoGP said on Tuesday (Feb 13).
“This is to ensure that races have a similar duration at each venue on the World Championship calendar, enhancing event organisation and aiding television broadcasters to better structure race day programming,” organisers said in a statement.
Seven courses at the elite MotoGP level will be reduced in distance for the 2018 season, while changes to races in the Moto2 and Moto3 classes will be implemented over the course of the next two seasons.
In MotoGP, the Americas GP, French GP, Catalan GP, Czech GP and San Marino GP will all be shortened by a lap, with the Spanish GP to lose two laps and the Valencia GP to be trimmed by three laps.
In the first testing of the year last month, Jorge Lorenzo topped the time sheets on the final day in Malaysia, emerging as the fastest-ever MotoGP rider at the Sepang circuit on a crash-filled day.
Despite a crash on turn 15, Spaniard Lorenzo – a three-time MotoGP winner – set a stunning 1min 58.830sec just before midday on a dry track riding a Ducati.
That annihilates the unofficial all-time lap record of 1min 58.867sec set by Honda’s Marc Marquez during the 2015 pre-season testing.
The fastest official lap, during a race weekend, is the 1min 59.053sec set by Marquez’s teammate Dani Pedrosa in 2015.
Lorenzo, who begins his second season with the Italian team, has said the new Ducati bike was more suited to his riding style.
Ducati team manager Davide Tardozzi said the 2018 championship will be competitive season.
“We are happy with the Ducati machine. We try to make the engine smoother and less aggressive. This what the riders requested all of last year,” he said.
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