The third Grand Prix in a row in 2022 and in the middle of a hectic flyaway stint of the current MotoGP calendar pulled the teams and riders to another busy venue that has been devoid of world championship action for the last two years.
Husqvarna Motorcycles and the Sterilgarda Max Racing Team landed in Bangkok and then transferred to Buriram – the home of the modern and flowing Chang International Circuit – for the OR Thailand Grand Prix. The paddock was met by high temperatures, humidity and rainy skies and the unstable climate continued into Free Practice on Friday where the Moto3 sessions were the only periods affected by the damp.
The wet tarmac was not enough to deter Ayumu Sasaki, who was still riding on a high after a podium finish at his home event in Motegi the previous weekend. The Japanese took his FR 250 GP to the top spot on combined times and was primed for Q2 on Saturday. Ayumu eventually came through qualification – run in overdue dry weather – with 3rd place and a berth on the front row of the grid. John McPhee set the 8th swiftest lap-time to fill a slot on the third row.
On Sunday morning the 22-lap race began under a grey ceiling but the Buriram area containing the 4.6km course was mercifully dry. Sasaki was into contention from the beginning and although he had little for the pace of eventual winner Dennis Foggia, he was able to deter Riccardo Rossi and seal 2nd position on the final corner. The result meant a eighth podium of the season for the team and the third in a row after trophies in Spain and Japan. McPhee crashed in the formative stages through the left-handed Turn 5. The Scot remounted but was forced out of the running.
Sasaki is still 4th in the world championship standings and is just 15 points from the top three. McPhee is 17th and 14 points away from the top fifteen as the experienced Brit counts the cost of his training injury and the small chunk of the season spent on the sidelines. The team are 3rd from 15 in the teams’ league.
MotoGP can finally breathe for a week before another double-header approaches with Grands Prix in Australia (Phillip Island) and Malaysia (Sepang International Circuit) to close activities for October and then bring the series back to Europe.
Ayumu Sasaki: “Today I did my best. I felt comfortable in the race but towards the end the tyre dropped and I was losing out to Dennis on the straight. The last few laps were hard but I’m happy to take 2nd place. We’re climbing up the championship which is good and hopefully we can be even a bit better in the last races.”
John McPhee: “I felt strong and good on the bike and I could attack pretty well but the crash was my mistake and it’s disappointing to end the race like that. It’s only the second time I’ve crashed this season but I’ll have to take it on the chin and just move onto the next one.”
Results – 2022 Moto3 World Championship, Round 17
1. Dennis Foggia (Honda) 37:52.331, 2. Ayumu Sasaki (Husqvarna) +1.524, 3. Riccardo Rossi (Honda) +2.804, DNF. John McPhee (Husqvarna)
Moto3 world championship standings
1. Izan Guevara (GASGAS) 265pts, 2. Dennis Foggia (Honda) 216, 3. Sergio Garcia (GASGAS) 209, 4. Ayumu Sasaki (Husqvarna) 194, 17. John McPhee (Husqvarna) 62