Morbidelli and Lüthi ready to conquer new territory in historic first Thailand MotoGP race
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS will take part in a historic moment for the MotoGP World Championship this weekend when the premier class of global motorcycle competition competes in Thailand for the first time
Franco Morbidelli and Thomas Lüthi take their quest for MotoGP points to new pastures this weekend when the Buriram track in Thailand hosts round 15 of this year’s MotoGP World Championship.
The 4.5km track located 400km to the northeast of Bangkok opened in 2014 and features a challenging blend of three long straights and 12 technical corners that offer plenty of slipstreaming and overtaking opportunities.
Created by renowned circuit designer Herman Tilke, an imposing feature of the Buriram venue is its 50,000-seater main grandstand, which offers a stunning vantage point of the whole track. A carnival atmosphere is expected to be whipped up this weekend, with interest in MotoGP booming in the South-East Asia region. An astonishing 30,000 fans turned up for the final day of testing in February and a capacity crowd is guaranteed for Sunday’s 26-lap race.
Morbidelli and Lüthi are no strangers to the Buriram track and both got the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the circuit during a three-day pre-season test session back in mid-February.
Franco Morbidelli lapped within 0.2s of the top 10 at the official test session and he outpaced the likes of Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Iannone and Aleix Espargaro on full factory machinery. The Italian arrives in the Far East brimming with confidence after he battled his way through from 19th on the grid to 11th position last time in MotorLand Aragon to extend his advantage in the race to be crowned Rookie of the Year to seven-points over Hafizh Syahrin.
Thomas Lüthi is more determined than ever to register his first points-scoring ride of 2018 in the energy-sapping heat and humidity of Buriram. The Swiss rider finished within three seconds of the top 15 in MotorLand Aragon and he is also keen to gauge how his riding style has evolved since his positive test in Buriram eight months ago.
Morbidelli and Lüthi will be on track for FP1 on Friday morning at 955am local time and the race, which kicks off the most intense period of the campaign with four races in five weeks, is scheduled to start at 2pm on Sunday.
Franco Morbidelli: 16th in the overall standings on 31 points
“I’m looking forward to racing in Thailand, as Buriram is a track where we’ve already had a test on the MotoGP bike and the knowledge for all the riders is the same. My team and I did a great job in the last races in San Marino and Aragon. We got some points there and improved our set-up in very warm conditions, which is like what we are going to find in Thailand. Now the last part of the season starts and we feel confident to make good races at some very challenging tracks.”
Thomas Lüthi: 25th in the overall standings
“It is very good that we already tested in Buriram because it means we go there with some track knowledge and information about the set-up of the bike. We need to see what will happen with the weather because in February it was very hot. But it looks now it might be a little more complicated with a high possibility of some rain. It is a very busy period of the season with four overseas races in just five weeks, so I have been enjoying some days of rest at home to be in the best possible shape both physically and mentally for the tough challenge ahead.”