Buri Ram MotoGP exceeds expectations
Event’s commercial rights holder praises the country’s staging of inaugural race as ‘the best’,
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.