Buri Ram Mo­toGP ex­ceeds ex­pec­ta­tions

Event’s com­mer­cial rights holder praises the coun­try’s stag­ing of in­au­gu­ral race as ‘the best’,

Bangkok Post - - SPORTS - writes Tor Chit­ti­nand

The PTT Thai­land Grand Prix, the coun­try’s first ever Mo­toGP event, has been hailed as a big suc­cess. The three-day ex­trav­a­ganza at Chang In­ter­na­tional Cir­cuit in Buri Ram at­tracted 205,000 peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from the Tourism and Sports Min­istry, the main or­gan­iser of the event.

The min­istry said the event gen­er­ated about 3.1 bil­lion baht and cre­ated 7,749 jobs mainly in the tourism in­dus­try.

Tourism and Sports Min­is­ter Weerasak Kow­surat posted on his Face­book ac­count that “Mr Carmelo [Ezpeleta], CEO of Donna [Dorna] Sports [the com­mer­cial rights holder of Mo­toGP] told Gen Prawit Wong­su­won, chair­man of the or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee that the or­gan­is­ing of the first mo­tor­cy­cle cham­pi­onship is the best ... among first-time or­gan­is­ers in the com­pany’s 27 years of stag­ing Mo­toGP.”

Four-time world cham­pion Marc Mar­quez of Honda be­came the first Mo­toGP cham­pion of the Thai­land Grand Prix.

The Spa­niard beat Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso, who came in se­cond, and Yamaha’s Mav­er­ick Vi­nales, who was third.

With the win, Mar­quez ex­tended his cham­pi­onship lead to 77 points with four races re­main­ing.

Somkiat Chantra, of AP Honda Rac­ing Thai­land, be­came the first Thai rider to gain points at the Thai­land Grand Prix af­ter fin­ish­ing ninth in Moto3.

His per­for­mance should be a boost for AP Honda’s am­bi­tion of see­ing a Thai in the top cat­e­gory, Mo­toGP, by 2025.

There have been Thai rac­ers com­pet­ing in Moto2 and Moto3 but with lit­tle suc­cess.

Moto3 star Nakarin Athi­rat­tapu-wa­pat is cur­rently the only Thai in the world mo­tor­cy­cle cham­pi­onship.

Mean­while, Mar­quez proved he is one of the most pop­u­lar Mo­toGP rid­ers in Thai­land.

Dur­ing his stay in the King­dom, he was fol­lowed by a large num­ber of Thais as AP Honda or­gan­ised an event for his fans to meet him.

He also helped pro­mote Thai­land as a tourist des­ti­na­tion with a ride past some of Bangkok’s at­trac­tions, in­clud­ing the Gi­ant Swing and the Democ­racy Mon­u­ment.

Mar­quez also drove a tuk tuk and ate khao moo daeng (rice with red pork with a sweet sauce) at a fa­mous shop near the Gi­ant Swing.

Newin Chid­chob, who owns the Chang In­ter­na­tional Cir­cuit, emerged as one of the ma­jor win­ners.

Newin played a key role in bring­ing Mo­toGP to Thai­land and was suc­cess­ful in per­suad­ing the gov­ern­ment, through the Sports Author­ity of Thai­land, which is un­der the Tourism and Sports Min­istry, to help fund the event.

The SAT last year signed a deal with Dorna Sports to host Mo­toGP for three years start­ing this year.

“We have achieved our goals,” said Newin’s af­ter last Sun­day’s race.

“We ex­pected to see more than 200,000 peo­ple to come here and we achieved that. It helped ho­tels and res­tau­rants, among other busi­nesses, in Buri Ram, Nakhon Ratchasima and Surin to earn money.”

Ini­tially, Newin wanted the cir­cuit to host a For­mula One event but he knows that it’s too early to think about the top four-wheel race.

“You may need more than 1.5 bil­lion baht to or­gan­ise a For­mula One race which is very ex­pen­sive. Mo­toGP is more pop­u­lar than For­mula One in Thai­land and watch­ing Mo­toGP is more af­ford­able for mo­tor­sport fans here,” said Newin.

He added that the gov­ern­ment should try to ex­tend the Mo­toGP con­tract with Dorna Sports.

Newin said Prawit made the right de­ci­sion to fund the event.

Un­for­tu­nately, Prawit is prob­a­bly not so pop­u­lar as he was booed by sec­tions of spec­ta­tors dur­ing his speech ahead of the race at Chang In­ter­na­tional Cir­cuit.

It was re­ported that he called the event “Mo­toCP” in­stead of “Mo­toGP”.

How­ever, Prawit later ar­gued that the spec­ta­tors did not boo but cheered to wel­come him.

Cham­pion Marc Mar­quez of Honda, cen­tre, cel­e­brates on the podium with run­ner-up Andrea Dovizioso of Ducati, left, and third-placed Mav­er­ick Vi­nales of Yamaha.

Mar­quez rides past Bangkok’s Gi­ant Swing.

PR girls of a prod­uct dur­ing the Thai­land Grand Prix in Buri Ram.

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