By The Nation
Race fans can expect to see more advanced bikes and intense competition when Buriram’s Chang International Circuit stages its leg of the FIM World Superbike Championship next month.
A star-studded field, including Irish world champion Jonathan Rea, Spain’s former 125cc world champion Álvaro Bautista, 2011 World Supersport champion Chaz Davies and Dutch ace Michael van der Mark, have committed to line up in the event from March 15-17, its fifth-consecutive year in Thailand.
Thailand’s Thitipong Warokorn and Ratchada Nakcharoensri will bid to give fans a home triumph and a range of activities will be staged so visitors to Isaan will have plenty to enjoy over the action-packed weekend.
Newin Chidchob, President of Buriram United International Circuit, said the event had been a pioneer in Thailand’s hosting of top-class sports.
“The WorldSBK [FIM World Superbike Championship] is important because it was the first event and led to the Chang International Circuit staging many world-class races.”
“What we will witness in the fifth year of the WorldSBK is a line-up of more advanced and striking racing bikes, well-equipped racers and more intense competition after decisive victories in the previous years.”
The FIM Superbike World Championship 2019 has a lot to live up to – it is promising to deliver a world-class experience to match the stunning success of last year’s MotoGP debut on the same circuit. This year, head sponsor “Chang” is also offering a Chang International Circuit Friend Club card which will give motorsports fans a discount of up to 25% off ticket prices and a discount of 10% when making purchases at the Buriram United Shop.
This year’s FIM Superbike World Championship 2019 promises to be a wide open field, with a change of riders in many teams and the introduction of new Superbike models.
Kawasaki’s Rea, the 2015-2018 World Championship winner, starts out as still being the man to beat and will this year be racing alongside his new British teammate Leon Haslam.
Welshman Chaz Davies from Team Aruba Racing will welcome Bautista as his new teammate after the Spaniard’s decision to quit MotoGP. Aruba will also be strengthened by a new bike, the Ducati Panigale V4 R, which offers riders more advanced functions than its predecessor, the Panigale V4.
The Pata Yamaha WorldSBK team have announced their determination to win the 2019 world crown and say their performances, especially during the most recent pre-season testing, have progressively improved since their return to the sport two years ago. Van der Mark and Englishman Alex Lowes will again be representing the team in 2019.
Thitipong, who has been awarded a wildcard, will be racing at the highest level of the World Superbike Championship for the Kawasaki Thailand Racing Team, using a bike with the same specifications as Rea’s. In addition, Ratchada will become Thailand’s first female rider to ever enter the global event – she will make her debut for the Yamaha PTT Lubricants Tann Racing Connect Team. Ratchada who has also been awarded a wildcard, will be racing in the World Supersport 600cc class.
Fans can also show their support for Thai riders Tatchakorn Buasri, Piyawat Patumyot and Warit Thongnakun, who will be representing the AP Honda Racing Thailand in the third and fourth races of the Asia Talent Cup 2019. This support race is one of many programs organised by Dorna Sports, the marketing company and commercial rights holder for MotoGP, to give high-profile race experience to promising Asian riders with an eye to world championship races in the future. There will also be a PTT Superbike 1000cc race, in which more than 30 Thai riders will be competing and adding more excitement to the fans over the three-day event.
The FIM Superbike World Championship 2019 will start from February 22-24 at Phillip Island in the Australias state of Victoria, followed by Thailand’s race, from March 15-17.