Jorge Martin made amends for squandering the Australian Grand Prix last weekend with a thrilling win in the Thailand Grand Prix, the Prima Pramac Ducati rider fighting back against Brad Binder (KTM) and title rival Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati) to take victory in Buriram on Sunday.
Martin, who paid dearly for using a soft compound rear tyre at Phillip Island and sunk from the lead on the final lap to finish fifth, managed his pace superbly from the front in Thailand to head a three-bike group that bided their time before unleashing a spectacular fight over the final seven laps.
Binder, who had stalked Martin all race long after coming through from fifth on the grid, made his first move on lap 20 to briefly take the lead, with Bagnaia joining the front-running duo after recovering from being elbowed back to seventh in the opening laps.
Martin took a lead he wouldn’t relinquish with three laps to go, but had to repel a brilliant Bagnaia move when the reigning world champion swept around the outside of Martin and Binder at the final corner on the penultimate lap, and just held off Binder to take the chequered flag 0.114secs ahead of the South African.
Binder was then demoted a place for breaching track limits on the final lap at Turn 4, the position swap with Bagnaia seeing the series leader gain four crucial world championship points to take a 13-point lead over Martin into the final three Grands Prix in Malaysia, Qatar and Valencia.
Martin won Saturday’s 13-lap Sprint too – the fourth time this year he’s won the Sprint and Grand Prix – with a fifth Sprint win in a row by repelling Binder and Ducati’s Luca Marini, leading every lap.
Sunday’s podium gap – just 0.253secs covered the top three – was the fourth-closest premier-class rostrum in the 74-year history of the world championship.
It was a tough Thailand outing for Australia’s Jack Miller, who finished one place out of the points in both the Sprint (10th) and Grand Prix (16th) on a weekend when factory KTM teammate Binder finished on the podium in both races and bagged 25 points for the weekend.
Miller was on his back foot from Friday onwards, when the 28-year-old came across Aleix Espargaro’s Aprilia on his final lap of practice and found himself outside the top 10 on the timesheets, finishing Friday in 13th place and consigning himself to a Q1 appearance. He then towed Marc Marquez (Honda) into a Q2 place while only qualifying 15th himself, and could only make minimal progress on Saturday before falling back on Sunday, finishing 17.460secs behind race-winner Martin.
Compatriot Joel Kelso secured back-to-back Moto3™ points finishes for the first time in a year in Buriram, the Australian backing up his maiden podium in the class at Phillip Island a week previously by finishing 12th in a massive pack competing for victory in Thailand.
The 20-year started from 14th place after making it through Q1 to Q2 on Saturday, where he crashed late in the session to begin the 19-lap race from the fourth row.
Kelso stayed glued to the front group throughout the race and gained one final spot on the last corner of the last lap, passing Brazilian Diogo Moreira to cement consecutive points finishes for the first time since the Thailand/Australian double-header in 2022. The CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP rider finished 2.337secs behind Colombian race-winner David Alonso (GasGas).
One weekend after finishing a miserable 14th and 21 seconds from the win in Australia, Fabio Quartararo bounced back in a big way in Thailand, the 2021 world champion qualifying in the top 10 and finishing fifth for Yamaha.
The Frenchman was in the thick of the fight from lights out at Buriram on Sunday, and finished just 4.550secs adrift of race-winner Martin after 26 laps, right in the wheel tracks of Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro after fighting his way past Marc Marquez’s Honda and Marini’s Ducati, which had qualified on the front row of the grid.
Espargaro was later penalised three seconds for a second technical infringement this season for running a front tyre pressure lower than the rules permit, dropping the Spaniard to eighth in the classification.
The result saw Quartararo move up to ninth in the world championship standings, demoting Miller to 10th with his third top-six result in the past five Grands Prix.
Number to know
0: Martin’s victory in Thailand means Ducati has now won a premier-class Grand Prix at every track on the current world championship calendar.
This feeling is amazing, because I wasn’t better than them. I had to push more than 100 per cent the last laps to stay in front, to overtake back Brad (Binder) and Pecco (Bagnaia). Hard moments are tough, but they make you stronger.
Thailand Motorcycle Grand Prix: top 10
- Jorge Martin (Ducati) 39mins 40.045secs
- Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati) +0.253secs
- Brad Binder (KTM) +0.114secs (1-place post-race penalty)
- Marco Bezzecchi (Ducati) +2.005secs
- Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) +4.550secs
- Marc Marquez (Honda) +5.362secs
- Luca Marini (Ducati) +6.778secs
- Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +7.303secs (3-second post-race penalty)
- Fabio Di Giannantonio (Ducati) +7.569secs
- Johann Zarco (Ducati) +9.377secs
Riders' championship standings (top 5)
- Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati) 389 points
- Jorge Martin (Ducati) 376 points
- Marco Bezzecchi (Ducati) 310 points
- Brad Binder (KTM) 249 points
- Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) 198 points
Round 18: Malaysia (Sepang), Nov 10-12