NOT the MotoGP New #ThaiGP – Working on the Chang Gang
They’ve come quick and fast recently, and so have the races. On to the Thai Grand Prix at Chang. Short and sweet just like……… well, you fill in the missing words.
Talking of which, the man of the moment, Jorge Martin is riding like no one else, with a cocky confidence not seen since Marc Marquez was in his full pomp. He may have cocked- up in Phillip Island using a soft rear tyre and losing points in his chase to catch championship leader Bagnaia, but his confidence hasn’t taken a bashing. Bagnaia on the other hand looks a little rattled. And they’re the main two left in the title chase. Brad Binder who had the slimmest of chances, lost the opportunity in Saturday’s short race (errrrr – that’s a “sprint” – Ed). So that leaves Bez in 3rd with the smallest of small chances, Martin, and Bagnaia to win the title.
Martin gave himself the leg up he needed by once again hitting pole. There’s something metronomic about the Spaniard, the way he consistently grabs the opportunity by the scruff of the neck and wrings it hard. Bagnaia is the polar opposite; studious and contemplative. Both attitudes work, both are right, but only one is going to win and at the moment it looks like Martin.
The whole, entire, race was excellent. From start to finish and every point in between. Ne’er a moment not worth re-watching. As per usual Martin launched from pole and arrived at the first corner in the lead. He would probably have no idea what to do if he had to nurse an overheating front tyre, but that’s not been his worry recently because he’s been out front with no one to follow. He did however pace himself and not try to make a break, to save his tyres this time.
Throughout the whole race Binder didn’t slip from second place for any moment worth mentioning. He’s the better of the two in the factory KTM set up whereas Jackeroo is struggling to come to grip with the change from Ducati. Binder’s performance in a swarm of Ducatis is remarkable. We’re just slightly annoyed the All Blacks didn’t win on Saturday night in Paris.
Pecco had the sort of qualifying Martin didn’t. Pecco’s making a ham-fisted cock-up of qually right now and it’ll be this that loses him the title. Once rolling and up to speed he has the skill and pace to get to the front without, it seems, totally losing his grip. By lap 10 Pecco was past Marini for fourth. The younger half-Rossi had been second on the grid, but unlike his teammate, Bez, conspired to go backwards throughout the race. Marc Marquez and Quartararo confounded everyone by being inside the top 10 and putting on a show not seen since 2019. The two best natural racers of now would have been the entertainment of the race if it hadn’t been for the fact that the whole race was as exciting as a Moto3 race.
Normally the last 10 laps of a race are all about tyre management with a corresponding slip in the heart rates as positions stretch out and gaps appear. Not this race though, the last 7 or 8 laps were some of the best this year. Is Bagnaia desperate? Or just realistic and opportunistic? Both probably. He’ fought his way up from 7th and once in third was attacking Binder without ever looking like he was going to crash. Binder in second, and Martin in first, looked both like they were crashing continually and only just saving it. For a short few laps, Binder took the lead and almost looked like he was going to win for the first time in 2 years. Martin though is a street fighter. A thug. A mugger. Obviously not literally, just metaphorically. And he just never gives up if his tyres are there. As we said earlier, metronomically consistent. And yes, he re-took the lead and took the win. The last lap had everything. The lap before had Bagnaia riding around the outside of the two in front only to outbreak himself.
So, Martin won, Binder crossed the finish line in second and Bagnaia in third. But Binder also crossed the track limits line coming out of the last corner for the last time. Demoted to third place. One man’s shit sandwich is another man’s salmon and lox; yep, Bagnaia was awarded second and saved a couple more points being lost to the jubilant Martin.