Red Bull Motorsports
The Spaniard left it late, passing race leader Andrea Dovizioso on the final corner and sprinting to the line ahead of the Ducati, while Maverick Viñales rounded out the podium after edging past his Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi in the closing laps.
The result means the Repsol Honda racer leads the world championship by 77 points – more than three race wins in hand – and can claim his seventh world title at the Japanese MotoGP in Motegi on October 21.
It was by no means a runaway victory, though: it was a triumph of raw nerve and racecraft after Márquez had to abandon his original race plan – get in front and maintain a gap to the end – in favour of keeping pace with the race leaders and saving his tyres for a late charge.
It was a close-run thing. Marquez had taken pole by just 0.011s from Rossi, and finished just 0.115s ahead of Dovizioso. At the start, Marquez had been swiftly passed by both Italians and struggled to make any pass stick until Lap 11, when he followed Dovizioso through on Rossi. "Dovi had a very good pace, and I was struggling with the front tyre," said Márquez after the race. "Instead, I just tried to manage the tyres and stick to him. Honestly, I wasn't so confident going into the final lap, because I've lost many head-to-head finishes with him in the past."
Márquez timed his victory charge to perfection, swapping places with Dovizioso at Turn 5, only to be passed again at T6, before finally out-braking the Ducati in the final corner and holding the lead to the line.
"It was a great feeling to race in front of all the Thai fans, who cheered and supported all of us riders equally. I'm really thankful to them," said Márquez.
Dani Pedrosa hits the dirt
It was a rough day at the office for Dani Pedrosa, who crashed out at Turn Five on Lap 18, as he pushed for a podium position. "I lost the front when I was pushing hard and getting closer to the front. I hit a bump and couldn't save it," said the veteran Spanish rider.
It marked the end of a valiant charge from the back, after Pedrosa's race had been stalled by a clutch issue on the grid. Once he got away, Pedrosa tangled with Jack Miller and struggled to get his tyres up to temperature for the first three laps.
Once he settled into a rhythm, Pedrosa had a strong race and was closing on the leading pack when he slid off and out of the race.
Plenty of positives from Ducati, says Dovi
Despite finishing second, Andrea Dovizioso leaves Thailand with a spring in his step, after Ducati continued to make big steps in terms of understanding the bike's setup and tyre wear.
The Italian didn't expect the Ducati to be so strong around a high-degradation circuit like Buriram, but the team has made considerable steps this season. "If someone says Buriram is Ducati's promised land, it's because they've never ridden a Ducati. Honda were the best bikes there in testing, but I think we can be more competitive this weekend, because things have changed a lot since then," he told Autosport on Friday.
Dovizioso did admit he had no answer to the world champion's race strategy, because with Márquez following him around the circuit, he had no chance to size up the Honda's strengths and weaknesses. "I didn't make a positive strategy, because I didn't know the positive and negative points of Marc, as I was always in front of him," he commented. "When he overtook me, I answered immediately, but if I didn't try in Turn 5, I would've been able to answer him in a different way at the last corner. But with Marc you never know how it will end."
I didn't make a positive strategy, because I didn't know the positive and negative points of Marc, as I was always in front of him
Zarco back at the races
After five months in the doldrums, double Moto2 world champion Johann Zarco returned to fighting for the top, with a fifth-place finish in MotoGP.
The Frenchman said "a lot of smiles" had returned to the Tech 3 Yamaha team after he fought with the leading group during the race's first half, before regrouping to retake Alex Rins on the final lap.
In recent rounds, Zarco has been physically exhausted by the end of the race, as he fought to control the Yamaha. But despite the blistering afternoon temperatures, he still had the strength to produce a late attack on Rins.
"It was a tough race, difficult for the body to cope with the warmth and the intensity of the race," said Zarco. "I'm pretty happy I was one of them. If it was hard for me, it was also hard for them, and this also motivated me to keep pushing. I was feeling good at the beginning of the race – better than Maverick."
Moto2: Teamwork makes the dream work for Bagnaia
The KTMs had looked strong at the start of the race, but first championship leader Bagnaia, and then his team-mate, were able to make their way through in the searing heat.
Binder eventually crossed the line fourth to finish just off the podium in another solid ride for the South African, with Fabio Quartararo finishing in a somewhat lonely fifth place.
Moto3: Jorge Martín is big winner after final corner crash
Moto3 witnessed an Italian 1–2–3 as Fabio Di Giannantonio held off Lorenzo Dalla Porta and Dennis Foggia in an all-action Moto3 race.
It was a thrilling race, but the big winner was championship-leader Jorge Martín, who rode through injury to race. He was running in sixth place when Enea Bastianini took his title rival Marco Bezzecchi out of the race in a final corner clash. It promoted Martin for fourth place and extended his title lead.