Thailand enjoyed one of the biggest thrills in motor sports as over 100,000 screaming fans went on a thrilling ride with Marc Marquez of Honda as he narrowly beat arch-rival Andrea Dovizioso of Ducati in the last corner to win the race.
The hosting of the event was especially promoted by Thailand Minister of Tourism and Sports, Weerasak Kowsurat, who courageously had the foresight and tough-minded perseverance to dream big and help Thailand take its rightful place as one of Asia’s leading sports tourism destinations.
He was particularly excited about the response from international visitors that travel worldwide specifically for MotoGP events. “ vOn my way back from Buriram, I had the pleasure of being seated next to a British couple who visited Thailand for the first time just for the MotoGP. They specifically travel the world to attend at least six MotoGP races per year.
“They were impressed by the event and said they love Thai green chicken curry. They already booked six room nights for next year’s event before leaving. Plus, they promised to return next year bringing even more family members and friends with them.”
Over 41,000 and 81,000 fans, respectively attended the Friday and Saturday qualifying sessions before the action packed final on Sunday with over 100,000 fans.
Mr. Weerasak estimated that the event generated three billion Baht (US$ 91.1 million) for Buriram and the neighbouring provinces noting that almost all of the riders also visited other Thai provinces, generating much needed revenue for the local economies.
“The teams and riders told organisers that they love the Thai people, love Thai food, and love the iconic Thai farm truck Rot I-tan. They also love the Pa Khao Ma handcrafted fabric and the ‘Sabai Sabai Isan” lifestyle,” Mr Weerasak added.
Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports (holder of the rights of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix or MotoGP), was quoted as saying to Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan (Chairman of the PTT Thailand Grand Prix 2018 MotoGP Committee) that Thailand’s first MotoGP should be considered a case study. He hailed it the best managed, most successful and smoothest running of any launch MotoGP race in the last 27 years that Dorna Sports has organised the event.
Mr Ezpeleta went on to congratulate Thailand and extended his gratitude to the entire Thai government and its people, for their support and warm reception at all activities and functions, according to Mr. Weerasak.