The KTM rider defeats Miller to the win, with Bagnaia third, Aleix Espargaro 11th after a Long Lap penalty… and Quartararo just not taking any points.
After two mistakes in Japan looked to have changed the fabric of the title fight, an even more dramatic day at the OR Thailand Grand Prix turned everything back on its head. At the front, a stunning wet weather win from Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) saw him impress in difficult conditions once again, with Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) for close company and just seven tenths off at the flag. Behind the two came the first fully wet premier class podium for Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), and those 16 points may well be the biggest scored for some time.
Oliveira may have had flashbacks of Lombok, but Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) didn’t. That podium pace was nowhere to be found on a tough day in Thailand, with the Championship leader simply failing to score as he crossed the line in 17th place. An 18-point advantage accrued after Japan is now just two points – and Quartararo’s race was also a saving grace for Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing).
A tough qualifying made way for a tough start to the race, and then the number 41 also made contact with Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and sent the number 33 well wide. For his trouble, Espargaro was given a Long Lap, compounding a tougher Sunday afternoon as he managed to come back to 11th. Still, with Quartararo’s struggles, the number 41 is closer – it’s only 20 points covering the top three riders.
The race itself saw polesitter Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) start well from pole and then head wide with Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing), and from there on it became the Miller show for some time. Slowly but surely, however, Oliveira was making progress – and around half distance the Portuguese rider struck and made it stick.
Miller wasn’t dropped, but the Australian couldn’t quite find a way back through and was forced to settle for second as Bagnaia dug deep just behind. First holding off Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and then a late-charging Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing), Pecco’s first fully wet podium couldn’t have come at a better time.
Zarco played it safe with the factory’s fate in mind and took less risk to take fourth, with Marquez completing the top five. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) was next up but a little way back from the breakaway top five, with Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) taking seventh ahead of a solid Sunday for Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol). Martin faded back to ninth, with Brad Binder completing the top ten after that early excursion, and finishing just ahead of Aleix Espargaro.
Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) is classified ahead of Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) after the latter was given a +3 second penalty for track limits without the time to take the Long Lap, with Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) and Raul Fernandez (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) completing the points. Bezzecchi faded from a fabulous start to miss out on scoring by the end of play, coming home just ahead of Quartararo.
And so a dramatic, pivotal and adjective-heavy day at Buriram comes to a close, and with it the triple-header. With only three races to go there are two riders in two points, three riders within 20 and five within 40 points… the last of those being Miller as the man in form heads back onto home turf. What will Phillip Island bring? We’ll find out in just under two weeks as the paddock heads Down Under!
1 Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory) – KTM – 41’44.503
2 Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) – Ducati – +0.730
3 Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) – Ducati – +1.968
Miguel Oliveira: “It was a long race but I can’t complain! Every time we have the chance to in the wet I’m always super fast and when it started raining I had flashbacks to Indonesia but I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start, not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end. I’m super happy with this end of season win, although if it’s in the wet it’s not the conditions where we prefer to win, but anyway I’ll take a win in any conditions!”
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