Round 02 Pirelli Thai Round 15 - 17 Mar
2019 WorldSBK Thailand - Chang International Circuit.
Yamaha Riders Ready to Turn up the Heat in Thailand
The Pata Yamaha WorldSBK riders, Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes, together with the GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK riders, Marco Melandri and Sandro Cortese, head to Thailand this weekend, for round two of the 2019 FIM Superbike World Championship, determined to build on the strong start they made to the season last time out in Australia.Van der Mark and Lowes are both looking forward to returning to the Chang International Circuit in Buriram where, just 12 months ago, the two Pata Yamaha riders claimed their first podium finishes of the 2018 season, with van der Mark finishing second and Lowes third.
Lowes heads into the second round of the 2019 season lying fourth in the championship standings with 30 points, having secured three top five finishes during the opening round in Australia. Van der Mark lies fifth in the standings, just a single point behind his Pata Yamaha teammate, having also finished all three races in Australia inside the top five. Both riders head into the Thai weekend with their sights set firmly on the podium.
Third in the championship standings with 30 points, and currently the leading Yamaha rider, is Melandri. The Italian veteran got his 2019 season off a flying start in Australia with a third place finish in the opening race, to give the GRT Yamaha squad a first podium finish on their WorldSBK debut. Melandri is keen to repeat this success this weekend in Thailand, a track he likes a lot.
While Cortese knows the Chang International Circuit, having finished just off the podium in the WorldSSP race a year ago, this year the German will experience it aboard the Yamaha YZF-R1 for the first time. A strong start to his WorldSBK career in Australia, where he achieved his goal of a top ten finish in each of the three races, means Cortese heads to Thailand fully motivated for the weekend ahead.
The Chang International Circuit was opened in 2014 and made its debut on the WorldSBK calendar the following year. Located in Buriram, the ‘City of Happiness’, 400km south west of Thailand’s capitol city Bangkok, the 4.544km circuit features a combination of seven right and five left corners with two long straights.
While the circuit itself is not particularly technical, the tropical heat and humidity in Thailand adds to the challenge for both the riders and their crews. This weekend the temperature in Buriram is predicted to reach almost 40 degrees centigrade, with humidity of around 80 percent, making for difficult conditions in all three races.