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.”