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Phuket Gazette Sports: Motorcycling – No end in sight for the reign of Spain

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Gazette Sports: Motorcycling – No end in sight for the reign of Spain | The Thaiger
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Motorcycling – No end in sight for the reign of Spain
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Valentino Rossi is back on a Yamaha but it will take some heroics for the aging Italian great to wrest the MotoGP title from Spanish hands in the season that starts under the Qatar floodlights this weekend.

Honda’s Dani Pedrosa lines up as the early favourite, closely followed by Rossi’s team mate and reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo, while Honda new boy Marc Marquez completes a trio of Spanish frontrunners in a new era following the premature retirement of Australian Casey Stoner.

Rossi, a 4/1 shot for the title with British bookmakers William Hill, is their closest rival as fourth favourite with no other rider given better than odds of 40/1 ahead of the season-opener.

The charismatic Italian has ditched his uncompetitive Ducati to return to the Yamaha works fold – the team where he won 46 grands prix and four of his seven world titles in the top category – alongside Lorenzo, but at 34 he is starting to feel the ravages of time.

“My comeback to Yamaha is a great story and a great bet, for me but also for Yamaha,” said the Italian, winner of 105 grands prix in all classes, during testing last month.

“Unfortunately I am quite old, this is true, but I feel very good…I hope I can fight again for the podium and to win some races. After that we’ll see where we are in the championship ranking.”

Rossi and Lorenzo were uneasy team mates in 2010, when the Mallorcan was the young hotshot and won his first title, but the latter is now a double world champion and the atmosphere promises to be much friendlier.

“Probably our relationship is better than three years ago,” Lorenzo said at the launch of the YZR-M1 machine last month. “Now we are a bit older, more mature, especially me as I was only 20 when I arrived in MotoGP.

“We do not have to be friends…but if the relationship is good this is much better for us but also for the team. We will try to stay calm and to push together in the same direction.”

Impressive times

Pedrosa, runner-up to Lorenzo last season, leads the works Honda line-up following the departure of double champion Stoner and has his best chance yet of a first title after a storming finish to last year with six wins in the closing eight races.

“The team has worked hard to get us in the best place for the start of the season and I’m pleased with my physical situation,” the injury-prone rider, now in his eighth MotoGP season with Honda, said in a team preview for Sunday’s night race at the Losail desert circuit.

Marquez is 20 but arrives after winning last year’s Moto2 title, and the 125cc crown the year before, and even Rossi sees something of his younger self in the Spaniard after impressive times in pre-season testing.

His partnership with Pedrosa and the comparisons with their Italian rival will be one of the leading storylines of the year ahead, with nobody ruling out Marquez taking the title in his debut season.

“If he can stay healthy, he is really going to shake things up this season,” said 2006 MotoGP champion Nicky Hayden, who remains with Audi-owned Ducati. “He has been very, very impressive and very fast…he could be a game-changer to MotoGP.”

Cal Crutchlow, fastest in Pedrosa’s absence on the final day of testing at Jerez with the Tech3 Yamaha team, is aiming to become the first British winner in MotoGP since the late Barry Sheene 32 years ago.

He also has a new team mate in an all-British line-up with Bradley Smith making his debut in the top class.

On the track the big novelty of the 18-race season is the F1-style knockout qualifying format.

The 10 quickest riders from the three free practice sessions will go forward to the second phase of qualifying along with the best two riders from a separate first qualifying that otherwise decides grid places from position 13 downwards.

There is also a new penalty points system for riders who collect regular warnings for endangering others.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Air Pollution

Salty tap water and dirty air – Bangkok’s environmental woes continue today

The Thaiger

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Salty tap water and dirty air – Bangkok’s environmental woes continue today | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Government House officials are turning to salt-tolerant plants - khaosod.co.th

Brackish tap water, with increased salinity caused by seawater back-flowing into the Chao Phraya River, is threatening the gardens in and around the Government House compound. Government House officials are seeking assistance from the Agriculture Department.

Several small tree species – Lamduan, Chor Sumalee, Rachavadi, Nom Maew and Hom Muenlee – are more vulnerable to brackish tap water. The gardens are watered from a supply pumped in from the Chao Phraya.

It’s been noted tha the saline level was around 400 milligrams per litre, still within the 1,000 mg/litre standard, but some of the species were already intolerant to the rising salinity.

Officials are seeking advice from the Agriculture Department about long-term measures to replant with species which would be more tolerant to the rising salinity of the water – situation they acknowledge will need to be managed in the short to medium term.

Salty tap water and dirty air - Bangkok's environmental woes continue today | News by The Thaiger

SCREENGRAB: Air Visual

Meanwhile, air around the capital today continues to be universally poor to very poor with readings as high as 187 near Suvarnabhumi Airport. Light airs, dust problems from northern-easter provinces and hot continental air flowing across the capital, continue to haunt Bangkok. Even with many factories closed today, and traffic lighter than weekdays, Bangkok’s air has been recorded as the ninth worst city in the world for air pollution.

Right across the city the air quality readings are into the ‘unhealthy’ zone.

Chiang Mai, Lampang and Central Thailand are fairing no better – all with readings at least 3 times the Thai upper safe limit of 50 microns of 2.5micron particulate per cubic metre. The World Health Organisation sets its limit even lower at 25.

Pattaya has air quality readings today of 162, whilst even Phuket, in the south, is registering readings between 100 and 145 with reduced visibility today.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

Salty tap water and dirty air - Bangkok's environmental woes continue today | News by The Thaiger

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Business

Three massive condo developments along Phuket’s up-market Layan Beach

Bill Barnett

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Three massive condo developments along Phuket’s up-market Layan Beach | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Northern end of Layan Beach - True-beachfront

by Bill Barnett – c9hotelworks.com

Two new condo developments are going ahead in the Layan Beach area of Phuket’s up-market west-coast beach strip. And there’s another one underway next to the Dream Beach Club at the northern end of the Layan beach strip. All in all, another 1,200+ keys added to the available rooms along the Bang Tao/Layan Beach area.

On the northern side of Bangtao Beach, next to Maan Tawan and nearby Banyan Tree Phuket is the upcoming Sunshine Beach development. With a plan for 771 hotel and residences units on 12.6 rai, the high-density project is targeting Mainland Chinese buyers with pricing points reportedly starting from 4 million baht. Construction is expected to start in June of this year and complete in 2022.

From our discussion with sales staff the developer has claimed they have reached an agreement with the government for beach fronting facilities in the National Park strip in front of the project.

While in Layan next to Lotus Gardens is the upcoming 400 unit Layan Green Park. Pricing points run from 2.5 million baht. Unit configurations will range from studio, to one, two and three bedrooms. Guaranteed returns of 10% for a period of 10 years are being promoted.

Phuket’s Layan area is seeing a surge in new real estate led projects and rising land values. At the same time as these two projects are underway, next to the Dream Beach is an oceanfront luxury project promoting sales of Grand Beach Villa and Ocean View Suites tagged as ‘N5’. The developer of the project is VIP Thailand who have another project in Rawai.

Based on our research the primary source market tragets of these three projects are mainland Chinese and Russian buyers. Local concerns in the Cherngtalay area over mounting traffic, water shortages and strain on municipal infrastructure are becoming issues.

Traffic in and around the central Cherngtalay shopping district is becoming increasingly clogged with little hope for respite other than improved traffic management.

SOURCE: C9Hotelworks.com

Three massive condo developments along Phuket's up-market Layan Beach | News by The Thaiger

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Business

Minor International battles Marriott over popular Phuket hotel property in court

The Thaiger

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Minor International battles Marriott over popular Phuket hotel property in court | The Thaiger
PHOTO: MINOR International are trying to kick Marriott out of it's Mai Khao property - Booking.com

Marriott International, the American international hotel company, has failed in its bid to secure an injunction in a Thai court to stop a legal claim filed by the Minor International group.

Minor International (MINT) says that its subsidiary MI Squared Ltd had filed a legal claim in a Thai court against Marriott International and the Thai subsidiary Luxury Hotels & Resorts (Thailand) for 570,605,134 baht. The claim is linked to the JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa in Mai Khao, which is owned by MINT. In the statement, MINT accuses Marriott of “acting in bad faith” alleging “serious and repeated breaches of Thai law”, according to ttrweekly.com.

The complaint from MINT alleges that Marriott was openly competing with the JW Marriott Phuket through its operation of competing Marriott-branded hotels in Phuket. Claims are made that the Mai Khao hotel uses its facilities to promote Marriott’s other competing Marriott hotels. Another of the complaints accuses Marriott of forcing the JW Marriott Phuket to accept high volumes of low-margin business through the Marriott’s loyalty program.

According to the ttrweekly.com article, the legal dispute includes allegations that Marriott “misappropriated MINT’s confidential and proprietary information” to promote Marriott’s competing hotels and unlawfully benefit Marriott’s own interests at the expense of MINT. The JW Marriott Phuket remains under Marriott’s management for now but “the operating performance has been poor”.

MINT told shareholders total hotel revenue decreased from 920 million in 2013 to 876 million baht last year. Over the same period, gross operating profit fell from 409 million to 379 million baht.

(It should be noted that many of Phuket’s high-end hotels have suffered a similar revenue fall due to increased competition, competitive pressures pushing room rates down and, especially over the past 12 months, a shift in tourist demographics.)

Marriott International issued a statement to ttrweekly.com following a request for comment.

“Marriott International acknowledges that a subsidiary of Minor International has initiated legal action in Thailand against Marriott and one of its Thai subsidiaries. Marriott reiterates that such claim is meritless and should be heard in confidential arbitration.

Our Thai subsidiary recently secured an interim injunction in arbitral proceedings restraining MINT’s subsidiary from pursuing the action in Thailand. We subsequently agreed with MINT to suspend the Thai proceedings pending the final outcome of our ongoing arbitration. As we intend to comply with our contractual confidentiality obligations, we are unable to provide more information at this time.

We consider JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa has performed well compared to the market. The dispute will have no impact on operations at the hotel, which continues to offer guests with world-class service and accommodations, a beachfront location and eleven culinary options.”

SOURCE: ttrweekly.com

Minor International battles Marriott over popular Phuket hotel property in court | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: marriott.com

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