Buriram, a circuit that on paper "has nothing to offer," hosted its first MotoGP test this past weekend to assess how October's inaugural Thailand Grand Prix will go. A tremendous amount of heat and a very simple track was what the riders found, but fortunately they were okay with that.

After three days of testing, the place was summed up to be unimpressive, except it's a track where lap times are under a minute and a half. This makes the time discrepancies very tight, which in turn creates the illusion of equality that isn't necessarily accurate. The fact that the fastest rider of the three-day test, Dani Pedrosa, and 16th in the classification, Jorge Lorenzo, were less than one second apart is not to say the level of competitiveness was actually close.

Maverick Viñales
"We are working hard trying to figure out what the problem is," Maverick Viñales said. "Right now it is mostly on braking, but we have to improve in all areas."Courtesy of Yamaha

And since I brought up his name, Lorenzo and the Ducati team got a big wake-up call in Thailand. After an excellent performance in Sepang three weeks earlier, Lorenzo was expected to continue his progression adapting to the Ducati, but it was a total fiasco. And the frustration generated nerves in the Spanish box. The team's time at Buriram can only be classified as "worrying."

After an excellent performance in Sepang three weeks earlier, Lorenzo was expected to continue his progression adapting to the Ducati, but it was a total fiasco.

That adjective can also be applied to the other second preseason test failure: Yamaha. To be more precise, the factory Yamaha team. The bewilderment and total absence of answers to the problems nearly drowning that effort are probably even more serious than we know. It's surprising that Valentino Rossi with all his experience doesn't know which way is up.

Hafizh Syahrin
Hafizh Syahrin will contest the 2018 MotoGP world championship with Monster Yamaha Tech 3. The 23-year-old Malaysian replaces Jonas Folger.Courtesy of Yamaha Tech 3

Then there is Maverick Viñales. I imagine that he, like us, puts his hands on his head when he compares his preseason last year with this one. Without Rossi's patience born of experience, at Buriram Maverick raised his voice. "If Yamaha wants me to fight this year for the title, they can start making me a bike," was more or less what he laid on the table.

Team director Massimo Meregalli’s statement a few days earlier assuring it was “normal” that Rossi had more importance in the development of the new motorcycle was surely not well received by the Catalan. Because of this, and because Yamaha’s engineers appear to have gotten well off track, tension has descended upon the Yamaha box.

Jack Miller
After three years with Honda, Jack Miller thus far appears at ease on the Ducati GP17. He joins Danilo Petrucci at Alma Pramac Racing.Courtesy of Pramac Racing

Neither does it help that Yamaha “satellite rider” Johann Zarco makes the factory riders go pale every time he goes out on the track. Meanwhile, Rossi one day blamed the electronics and the next day the chassis, and Viñales simply said that nothing on the current bike worked. Zarco, who finished second at this test, exclaimed, “Everything is perfect,” regarding the bike. Is this or is this not strange?

Meanwhile, Rossi one day blamed the electronics and the next day the chassis. Zarco exclaimed, “Everything is perfect.”

Between Honda’s A-plus and Yamaha’s fail, it is worth noting the following riders: Aussie Jack Miller, who, if he continues as he is on the Pramac Ducati GP17, will be the dark horse of the season; Spaniard Alex Rins, who is making the heads at Suzuki dream; and, of course, the “ice man,” Andrea Dovizioso, who applies pure common sense to racing working focused on the first GP to be held March 18 under the lights at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.