The MotoGP World Championship 2009 runner-up Jorge Lorenzo was given a hero’s welcome by a huge crowd today on the first day of a visit to South East Asia. In a country where half a million motorcycles are sold but where the stars of the sport rarely visit, the Spaniard paid an early morning visit to the Yamaha Motor Thailand factory in Bangkok before spending the afternoon at the capital city’s most important dealership, the Yamaha Rider’s Club.
This morning he was welcomed by the factory President Frank Nagashima and Chief Operating Officer Praphan Phornthanavasit, before being given a tour of each of the departments, where no fewer than 3,000 people work – mainly on production of the country’s biggest selling motorcycle, the 115cc Yamaha Fino.
In the afternoon the double 250cc World Champion conducted a series of interviews with the local press before putting on his race leathers to test ride a Yamaha YZF-R1, decorated in Fiat Yamaha livery and with his now famous number 99 on the front. It was Lorenzo’s first time on a motorcycle since undergoing an operation on his left collarbone on the 16th November in Barcelona, but he was in strong enough shape to leave onlookers impressed at his ability on two wheels. The crowning glory was a burnout in front of 800 people.
“It is incredible to see so many happy people here in Bangkok, where they don’t get to see this kind of event very often. Motorcycling is not one of the most popular sports here but it is certainly one of the most important businesses. To be able to come here and give the people at Yamaha a boost gives me a lot of pride. Tomorrow we’ll head to Indonesia and I’m sure we’ll find out even more about the secrets of this great brand.”