Motorcycling-KTM's Oliveira wins rain-affected Thai GP as title race hots up

MotoGP - Thailand Grand Prix - Chang International Circuit, Buriram, Thailand - October 2, 2022 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Miguel Oliveira celebrates on the podium with the trophy after winning the race REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

(Reuters) -KTM rider Miguel Oliveira held his nerve in rainy conditions to win the Thai Grand Prix in Buriram on Sunday as Francesco Bagnaia made up significant ground on world championship leader Fabio Quartararo who finished 17th.

Oliveira crossed the line 0.730 seconds ahead of Ducati duo Jack Miller and Bagnaia at the Chang International Circuit, in a race significantly delayed by rain.

"It was a long race, but I can't complain. Every time we get a chance to race on the wet, I'm always super fast," said Oliveira, who also showcased his wet-weather skills this season in his victory at the Indonesia MotoGP.

"When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia, but I tried to keep my feet on the ground and not make mistakes. I'm happy with this end of season win."

Bagnaia was made to work for his third-placed finish by Pramac Ducati's Johann Zarco, but held on to reduce Frenchman Quartararo's lead in the standings from 18 points to two.

"I'm very happy, it's like a win for me this podium," Bagnaia said.

"I want to thank Jack (Miller), he gave me a motivational chat before the race and we spoke a bit."

Quartararo had a disastrous start to the race, dropping down from fourth on the grid to 17th place on the first lap before ending up outside the points.

Aprilia Racing's Aleix Espargaro also regained ground in the overall standings as he reduced the gap between him and Quartararo to 20 points despite finishing 11th after being given a long-lap penalty for a collision with Brad Binder.

Honda's six-times MotoGP champion Marc Marquez finished fifth, ahead of Enea Bastianini and Maverick Vinales, while Marquez's brother Alex was eighth.

Pole-sitter Marco Bezzecchi could only manage 16th place after being forced to relinquish his lead early on due to a position drop penalty.

(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)

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