Crew chiefs chat Chang International Circuit

It’s time for new beginnings as the MotoGP™ paddock head to Thailand for the first time, but what can we expect?

A new circuit awaits the MotoGP™ paddock for the first of the four flyaway races in 2018 as the Chang International Circuit plays host to the PTT Thailand Grand Prix. But what do the team’s think about the Buriram layout?

Well, according to Marc Marquez’ (Repsol Honda Team) crew chief Santi Hernandez, “the first part (of Buriram) is kind of like the Red Bull Ring, the second is very similar to Misano.” Two long straights after the first corner, joined together by a tight hairpin, make up the first part of the circuit. While the middle sector consists of a string of more technical corners.

Andrea Dovizioso’s (Ducati Team) crew chief Alberto Giribuola agrees that the circuit is similar to Austria: “Thailand is quite similar to Austria because it’s quite an aggressive track, so it’s easy to make mistakes because you have really hard braking, so easy to miss the perfect braking point. It’s not easy for the qualifying, for example, because you can make mistakes and maybe start in a bad position for the race.”

With this in mind, will Ducati be the manufacturer to beat at a circuit that is similar to a track they’ve won at for three consecutive years? Maybe, especially with the step forward the Bologna factory have made this season, having three of the four races since the summer break. However, if you look back at the pre-season test results in Thailand, the nearest Ducati to Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa was in fact Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) – 0.409 adrift of the top time, with Dovi 0.411 back from the Spaniard. The test times shouldn’t be looked into too much though, according to Hernandez:

“Buriram race will be completely different to the pre-season test. Now, we arrive there with a completely different base setup, and we don’t know if what we tried there will be the right base or what we’re using now. We tested at the beginning of the season, but as you know, at the beginning of the season is one thing, after fourteen races it’s another thing because, during the year you improve the bike or you try to improve the bike and, maybe, the setup you were using pre-season is not the same as what you are using now.”

And after their brilliant round in Aragon, what are Team Suzuki Ecstar expecting from the Thai GP? “Basically, there are two big straights coming out of corners, so this is not great for our bike because we like corner speed,” explains Marco Rigamonti, crew chief to MotorLand podium finisher Andrea Iannone. “But sector two or sector three is a long sector with a long corner and faster speeds, so this is good for our bike,” concludes Rigamonti.

Another team to have left Aragon on a high were Aprilia Racing Team Gresini, thanks to Aleix Espargaro picking up P6. But what does the Spaniard’s crew chief Pietro Caprara think about Buriram?

“We have some information and some comparisons we made in the Spielberg race, for example, that from some places it’s not similar but not too different either. So we’re confident to have a different setting compared to the last races, in Misano, a bit different to here (Aragon), but more similar to Spielberg.” 

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