Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) was the quickest man out the blocks at Buriram on Day 1 of the PTT Thailand Grand Prix, but it wasn’t by much. A stunning performance from Thai rookie Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) put him second overall by only 0.008, with Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) rounding out a top three split by an infinitesimal 0.013 on Day 1.
Hot but dry, at least barring the typical humidity, Friday was one of the closest opening days of the season as the top 24 were all within a second. With the weather a question mark for much of the event, getting the most from that track time and trying to secure a place in Q2 was high on the agenda – and it’s less than four tenths that cover those who’ll provisionally go through.
Behind the top three it’s still hundredths deciding the timesheets as Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) finished the day just 0.036 behind his teammate; the Australian taking P4 and just ahead of Championship leader Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS). The number 73 was fifth but only 0.077 off Marini.
Sixth belonged to Italian rookie Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team), with ‘The Beast’ just getting the better of KTM riders Iker Lecuona (American Racing KTM) and Aragon GP winner Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo). Key title challengers Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) and Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) completed the top ten in P9 and P10 respectively, although Navarro remains just two and a half tenths off the top.
Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) was P11, ahead of Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), with Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) the last man who currently stands to move through should the weather worsen conditions in FP3 on Saturday morning.
There were a few surprise names further down including Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) in P18, just ahead of Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), who crashed in FP2. Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) returned from injury and was 20th despite an FP1 crash, with Mattia Pasini (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) another faller in the afternoon as he ended the day just behind the German.
Moto2™ FP3 begins at 10:55 local time (GMT+7), before qualifying from 15:05. It’s going to be hot – whether the weather is or not…
1 – Luca Marini (ITA – Kalex) 1’35.956
2 – Somkiat Chantra (THA – Kalex) +0.008
3 – Tetsuta Nagashima (JPN – Kalex) +0.013
4 – Remy Gardner (AUS – Kalex) +0.049
5 – Alex Marquez (SPA – Kalex) +0.077
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