PM ex­pects Mo­toGP will lift tourism

Rid­ers visit Bangkok, soak in Thai cul­ture

Bangkok Post - - SPORTS -

Prime Min­is­ter Prayut Chan-o-cha hopes Mo­toGP will help boost Thai­land’s tourism in­dus­try.

Thai­land will host its first Mo­toGP race at Chang In­ter­na­tional Cir­cuit in Buri Ram in Oc­to­ber and the three-day sec­ond of­fi­cial test of the year will be held at the same venue from to­mor­row.

Rid­ers An­drea Ian­none, Takaaki Nak­agami, Jo­hann Zarco, Jack Miller and Alex Rins yes­ter­day paid a cour­tesy call on the prime min­is­ter at Gov­ern­ment House.

The vis­it­ing group was led by In­ga­cio Sag­nier, com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor of Dorna Sports which holds the com­mer­cial rights for Mo­toGP.

“The gov­ern­ment hopes the event will help pro­mote the coun­try’s tourism,” Gen Prayut said.

“Sports are i mpor­tant i n help­ing strengthen re­la­tions both in the coun­try and over­seas. I wish the race be­come suc­cess­ful and the par­tic­i­pants be safe.”

The five rid­ers vis­ited the Thai cap­i­tal yes­ter­day to soak in some cul­ture and get to know the South­east Asian na­tion, be­gin­ning their day with a trip to the Tem­ple of Dawn (Wat Arun).

The stun­ning Tem­ple of Dawn is a true jewel of the city, and there the rid­ers were wel­comed by a Thai dance dis­play and a tra­di­tional pup­pet ex­hi­bi­tion.

The rid­ers then met the prime min­is­ter, who thanked them for vis­it­ing Thai­land.

Gen Prayut also thanked all con­cerned par­ties for their role in bring­ing Mo­toGP to Thai­land, which will be a venue for the event for at least three years.

The prime min­is­ter also pro­fessed his love for speed and en­cour­aged the rid­ers to ride fast, but stay safe.

He then re­ceived a hel­met, signed by each one of the rid­ers, from Sag­nier, and promised to wear it.

The rac­ers were given some gifts in re­turn, in­clud­ing amulets to keep them safe on track.

Mean­while, the dis­tance of sev­eral Grands Prix on the mo­tor­cy­cle world cir­cuit are to be short­ened in a bid to stan­dard­ise their du­ra­tions and help tele­vi­sion broad­cast­ers, Mo­toGP said on Tues­day.

“This is to en­sure that races have a sim­i­lar du­ra­tion at each venue on the World Cham­pi­onship cal­en­dar, en­hanc­ing event or­gan­i­sa­tion and aid­ing tele­vi­sion broad­cast­ers to bet­ter struc­ture race day pro­gram­ming,” or­gan­is­ers said in a state­ment.

Seven cour­ses at the elite Mo­toGP level will be re­duced in dis­tance for the 2018 sea­son, while changes to races in the Moto2 and Moto3 classes will be im­ple­mented over the course of the next two sea­sons.

In Mo­toGP, the Amer­i­cas GP, French GP, Cata­lan GP, Czech GP and San Marino GP will all be short­ened by a lap, with the Span­ish GP to lose two laps and the Va­len­cia GP to be trimmed by three laps.

In the first test­ing of the year last month, Jorge Lorenzo topped the time sheets on the fi­nal day in Malaysia, emerg­ing as the fastest-ever Mo­toGP rider at the Sepang cir­cuit on a crash-filled day.

De­spite a crash on turn 15, Spa­niard Lorenzo — a three-time Mo­toGP win­ner — set a stun­ning 1min 58.830sec just be­fore noon on a dry track rid­ing a Du­cati.

That an­ni­hi­lates the un­of­fi­cial all-time lap record of 1min 58.867sec set by Honda’s Marc Mar­quez dur­ing the 2015 pre-sea­son test­ing.

The fastest of­fi­cial lap, dur­ing a race week­end, is the 1min 59.053sec set by Mar­quez’s team­mate Dani Pe­drosa in 2015.

Lorenzo, who be­gins his sec­ond sea­son with the Ital­ian team, has said the new Du­cati bike was more suited to his rid­ing style.

Du­cati team man­ager Da­vide Tar­dozzi said the 2018 cham­pi­onship will be com­pet­i­tive sea­son.

“We are happy with the Du­cati ma­chine. We try to make the en­gine smoother and less ag­gres­sive. This what the rid­ers re­quested all of last year,” he said.

PAWAT LAOPAISARNTAKSIN

ABOVE Mo­toGP rid­ers visit Bangkok’s Tem­ple of Dawn yes­ter­day ahead of a test in Buri Ram this week­end.

CHANAT KATANYU

LEFT Prime Min­is­ter Prayut Chan-o-cha, seated, re­ceives a hel­met from Dorna Sports’ In­ga­cio Sag­nier dur­ing Mo­toGP rac­ers’ visit to Gov­ern­ment House yes­ter­day.

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