Thailand GP 2022 Preview: The fight for the title returns to Buriram

The Premier Class hits Asia this weekend after a two-year absence caused by the COVID pandemic. The Chang International Circuit will host the third race (after Aragon and Japan) of this season’s triple header at the Thailand MotoGP 2022 event. The heroes of the two wheels have already landed in Buriram having had hardly any time to recover from the battle at Motegi. 

The Thai track will host the seventeenth round of a World Championship currently led by Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha). The leader, who finished in eighth place on the Japanese track, fared well overall thanks to the blank results of rivals Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia). Following Japan, “El Diablo” rules the table with 18 over the Italian and 25 over the Spaniard. 

The distance between the first three qualified, however, is quite small considering there are still 100 points up for grabs over the next four races. In any case, all of them will need to put the last race behind them in preparation for this weekend. 

The crown defender hasn’t been able to get his rhythm back since he started losing in the Netherlands. Six races on and he has only climbed to the podium in Austria and has finished out of the points on two occasions.

Now, he hopes to repeat his Buriram performance of 2019, when he finished in second place following a vibrant duel with Marc Marquez. That memory will give the Frenchman confidence in his ability to start in the front row and get back onto the winning path. 

Bagnaia: In search of redemption 

Quartararo’s main rival, Bagnaia, faces the Thai GP needing to redeem himself after his fiasco in Japan where he crashed on the last lap as he was trying to overtake the French leader. The mishap has meant a step back in his fight for the crown 

Worse of all, his mistake put an end to a spectacular run of four consecutive wins and a second place, dealing a serious blow to his confidence. The Milanese has no margin for error in Buriram. He needs to reduce the distance that separates him from Quartararo at any cost. 

Espargaro needs to get closer to Quartararo 

As for the third classified, Aleix Espargaro, he finished in sixteenth place in Motegi but not because of any wrongdoing on his part. His team made the mistake of forgetting to turn off the fuel-saving mode and, as a result, Aleix had to change his bike moments before the race started forcing him to start from the pit lane. 

In any case, his machine did not display the rhythm necessary to win the battle in the country of the rising sun. Whatever the reason, his title bid is weakening. His third place in Aragon gave his candidacy a new leash of life but this new setback has made it quiver.

His situation is even more complicated than Bagnaia’s and both time and opportunities are running out. His teammate Maverick Viñales also gave a disappointing performance last weekend. The question inevitably arises about their bike’s performance. 

Watch out for Marc at one of his favourite circuits 

 Beyond the title hopefuls, a great deal of attention will focus on Marc Marquez (Honda). The eighth-time champion finally managed to finish his first race in Motegi after four months of inactivity. His performance in Japan was excellent.

After taking his first pole position in three years, he sealed a very meritorious fourth place. The Spanish champion continues to make good physical progress. All that remains is for his RC213V -and its rear tire- to live up to the challenge. 

He might carry on these positive sensations to this weekend’s race, even more so considering he is the winner of its two previous editions (2018, 2019). It was also in Thailand that he sealed his sixth and latest MotoGP title. All of these make of Marquez a serious candidate to be among the top three in Chang. 

Images of Thailand MotoGP 2022: MotoGP.com 

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