Mandalika MotoGP Sunday Subscriber Notes: Indonesia Deserves Better, Why Confidence Matters, And A Surprising Rookie

As I wrote on Thursday, if there is one nation which deserves a MotoGP race, it is Indonesia. The fact that the President himself turned up for the race, (and actually hung around for the MotoGP race, rather than disappearing once the formalities had been handled) says plenty about the central role which the sport plays in Indonesia.

Indonesia may deserve a MotoGP round, but they deserve better than they got at Mandalika. Despite the fact that we had three races at the track, with three deserving winners, including an Indonesian rider on the front row in Moto3 and the first ever Thai winner of a grand prix, with Somkiat Chantra's victory in Moto2, MotoGP got through the event by the skin of its teeth.

Starting with the crowds. The fans who turned up were fantastic, enthusiastic and clearly reveling in the fact that they had a race in their home country at last. The official attendance figure was 62,923, but to paraphrase a popularly misattributed aphorism, there are lies, damned lies, and official sporting event attendance numbers.

But the event was wildly overpriced – more expensive than F1 at Sepang, local fans said – and way too expensive for most locals to attend. Getting to Lombok was expensive and difficult for anyone not on the island. There were plenty of locals at the race, but they were stood outside the fence and on the hillsides surrounding the circuit.

Of course, the circuit has to recoup the massive investment being made to build the facilities, and the cost of hosting the event. That may go some way to explaining the pricing. Another factor may be, as an Australian follower pointed out to me on Twitter, that Bali and Lombok are very popular vacation destinations for Australians, and once the hotel complexes are completed around Mandalika, they are likely to be packed with Australians during the grand prix weekend, giving Australia a third GP, after Phillip Island and Sepang.

Having the circuit packed with visiting Australians doesn't make the Mandalika GP particularly Indonesian, of course. Then again, the same could be said of the Assen round of WorldSBK 20 years ago, when the Dutch circuit was packed with British fans who had taken the boat to watch the races.

Rip it up

Indonesia deserves a better circuit too. Or rather, a better surface. The track layout is excellent, minor quibbles over the nature of the last corner apart. The runoff is superb, and it is a very safe track in every respect, other than the surface. Despite the track being resurfaced from Turns 17 through 5, the new surface was coming apart at Turn 2, Turn 3, and the final corner. Riders and senior staff were commenting that they feared that Turn 17, in particular, would not last race distance, even after Race Direction had shortened the Moto2 race to 16 laps and MotoGP to 20 laps.

What was the problem? Riding on a freshly laid surface was always going to be a risk. With little time to settle and bed in, and searing tropical heat softening tarmac, parts of the track coming up where it was particularly heavily stressed was to be expected.

Torrential rain saved the circuit for the MotoGP class. The start of the race was delayed by an hour and quarter, but it allowed the race to be run in fully wet and relatively safe conditions. Even then, the track was still coming up in places.

"In the wet, we felt the asphalt hitting into our body from the rider in front, so imagine in the dry conditions," Alex Rins said after the race. "In the last corner, the tarmac was starting to come out. Five minutes ago, I still had my leather suit on, and now I was in the office, I took off my leathers and I had my chest full of black stones. So for the track condition, better like this than in dry."

Others were a little more optimistic, despite the track coming apart. "I could see why they shortened it," Jack Miller said. "Where the asphalt had been copping a hiding all weekend you crank it over right on the apex there and it was… The asphalt was only finished last weekend. Generally it needs a month or two to set in. So I think under the circumstances the race would have happened no problem and I'm sure it would have been fine. We had a grand prix and better not to look at the negative side but the positive, that we had a great day's racing and got to give the fans a show here and I think they were all pretty happy. There were a lot of fans out there."

Whatever happens, the circuit will have to be resurfaced before MotoGP returns. The riders were under the impression that this was a condition for returning, and most likely, it will happen with plenty of time to spare before WorldSBK returns to the track in Indonesia. And as development of the tourist resort surrounding the circuit progresses, that should also mean less dust, mud, and dirt to get on track and make it slippery and slick.

Indonesia probably deserves a better schedule for its MotoGP round as well. Like other rounds held in Asia and Australia, the time schedule of the weekend is shifted to better suit European TV times. Understandable, perhaps, given TV contributes roughly a third of Dorna's budget, and most of that comes from Spain, Italy, and the UK. But that also means that the race takes place a little later in the afternoon, and at Mandalika, around 3pm. In the tropics, heavy rains usually start toward the end of the afternoon, and so the later the race, the greater the chance of rain.

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I witnessed a successful show. Good job everyone that helped make it happen. Including the rain shaman.

Zarco's race was interesting as well. He looked very tentative trying to overtake Miller. Completely different to his usual win it or bin it approach. Wonder if Quartararo would have had it that easy if Zarco had gone past Miller a little earlier? He was fast, but I think there would have been more a fight.

It was great to watch live for three afternoons here in Oz. Turned me into a complete couch potato and my small wine cellar took a hammering but what entertainment! The wet weather grip of those tyres is remarkable. I don’t ride when there are dark clouds about. Back to watching recordings the next day for Argentina.

Likewise, except that the doctors have told me to lay off the wine cellar. Most unfortunate.

The fact that points can be recovered is true. However, you can frame it slightly differently; Ok, you start the season with a 30 point handicap ! You only need to outscore the other riders by 1.6 points per race...unless, as seems likely, you don't always beat Fabio or whoever but on average, over the remaining 19 races, 1.6 points per race...unless you fall off next race and they win, then it's 3.2 points per race. Do that again and suddenly you're near having to win every race and hoping they don't finish second...with 17 races remaining ! Of course, none of that will happen, Fabio will have bad days but so will Peco too. Fabio will not finish second every race but Peco will not win every race either. Last year Peco had two 'no scores' and a worst finish of 11th. In two rounds he has bagged one 'no score' and a 15th worth 1 point. He has more races to run than last year but already he is in the position of not being able to afford bad days, maybe one...two...all depends on what the other riders do (a racing universal). A bad day is not just zero points, it's potentially -25 points. It's a long way to go, nothing is decided by a long long way, it's a marathon but if you stand still it doesn't take long for the leaders to slip out of reach....albeit not mathematically in every respect but on average out of reach.

Or it can turn into a 2020 and then just pick a name out of the hat, the champion might not even be in the paddock yet.

If Fabio keeps racking up the podium finishes and Pecco finishes outside of them with a poorly performing bike - the gap between the two will keep rising. Pressure is also on Marc marquez. The new Honda has gone from the solution to Honda's problems to something that keep MM93 from racing on Sunday. Fabio may not know it - but despite his complaining at the start of the season - he may have the most balanced bike and will rack up the points each race.  

This could definitely be a year like 2020 where it's so open that anyone who can consistently finish in the top 4/5 will be at the top, even if they win very few races. If so, as well as Fabio, I'd expect Mir to be up there again, and maybe even Brad.

Totally agree . Dominate at the Yamaha “friendly “ tracks , finish the race in a respectful place at the tracks where HP is king ….

Based on the later half of last season - it’s you! Based on the start of this one - it’s not you. That doesn’t help at all does it?

Oh what a difference a year...sorry... two races make. If I was a rider, I wouldn't even be thinking about the championship. It's such a difficult sport to win. So many riders so very close. I do think that high expectations should start with a top 5 regardless of which team or bike. Peco has had two bad races. That's not just Peco...that's Peco and the team have had two bad races. So has Martin...and his team. The idea that either of them were guaranteed to roll on from Valencia 2021 continuing onwards and upwards is fantasy. A rider could have the bike of the century, if that rider and their team do not produce a top performance in any given weekend, they might not score points these days. Maybe there was an expectation but the reality has arrived. I don't think it's practical to separate performance between rider, bike or team...they are all in it together. Peco, Ducati, Martin and Pramac have shown they are capable of doing a top job and I'm fairly certain they will. It's also possible that they have been doing a top job but fate said no.

I did take note when Franco said the Yamaha was a super nice bike to ride. That was the story a few years ago with Zarco and Folger. Rookies dream bike. However, last year there was some talk of the Yamaha being a 'one rider' bike with only Fabio able to unlock its potential. I think that came from the torrid season all other Yamaha riders had last year rather than the bike becoming the 'inline Honda'. The Yamaha is not slow around a lap ( grunt be dammed ) but over a season its 'easy nature' is possibly its biggest advantage. It gives Fabio, Franco, Dovi, Darryn and Yamaha the ability to get closer to the absolute potential of the bike every weekend. Even if the potential of the bike is lower than the other bikes, over a season, it's a win. The Ducati might be the quicker bike...but the difference is not enough to compensate for when they stumble.

“Or … the champion might not even be in the paddock yet”

I like this! Dovi will unexpectedly retire and Yamaha will pull Toprak into MotoGP starting with the European races. Then Dovi will immediately regret his decision and go to WSBK. 😀

I agree to a point Larry, but it essentially ended his career then and there. No one wanted to sign him proper and his time away from the sport did him no favours, let alone now trying to adapt to a new bike with father time at his heels. On the GP21 I think he would have won plenty of races and been there in the title hunt.

Based on what I've seen so far of "Unlimited" he's not likely to get much better treatment where he is. Razlan Razali really seems like a tosser. Obviously Vale was past his prime, but with a team lead like that anyone would struggle to thrive. Given also his falling out with Stigefelt and public apology to Petronas/SIC as further evidence, I'd say he's right up there with Puig and Claudio for the number 1 plate in the Narcissistic Sociopath of MotoGP competition. 

It's for sure a pity he landed where he did, but I agree that Dovi made a decision to respect himself even if that meant closing a door, and I in turn respect him (further) for that. 

What is up with the man-love between Zarco and Quarty? Yes, I know he is french, but really... Also did Quarty snub Zarco's handshake when he took to the podium stage? Anyone notice Paolo Olivera was burping under his mask everytime they put the camera on him. Man has reflux issues or something else going on. He doesn't look healthy. I wish him the best.

You'd have reflux too if your lad was racing in the rain up the front!

chapeau to cormac for the pics on this one, motoGP sure does look phenomenal in the rain. I also think the win for Oliveira was an important one in the context of the contract season ahead, as a result like this could put him in the drivers seat to retain that spot in the factory KTM team alongside Binder (Especially with the likes of Gardner, Acosta etc. not having the best of starts to their 2022 campaigns)

  1. Is it me, or are the lean angles they were able to carry here the craziest ever for a rain race? 
  2. I will keep beating my drum- Brad's shapeshifter failure is yet another piece of evidence that FIM or whoever should just allow those devices to be controlled electronically
  3. I wouldn't be celebrating for Yamaha just yet. It's great that they seem to have sorted out their low grip condition issues, but the layout and conditions really made their power deficit a non issue. I want to see how Fabio goes at places like Catalunya and Mugello to really know where the M1 stands.

I believe the same issue with the porous aggregate crumbling and coming up out of the track also contributed to excellent wet weather grip. Clearly the new track surface (no polished edges), porous aggregate and Michelins crazy good medium rains were sufficient to give unheard of grip and lean. I guess now that the "safety" issue is bring brought up and the end may be near for shapeshifters, we will hear more about failures (info which may have been supressed before). I for one have felt that the chance of improper activation and failure ruining a race has always made their inclusion undesirable. As far as Yamaha thinking their wet weather or low traction issues are solved. I can't imagine anyone will extrapolate this result to longer venues. Perhaps however this weekend does give Yamaha/Fabio a roadmap to the title. Perform however and where ever you can.


Any word on the M1 cut-out for Fabio and Dovi? Software glitch or hardware problem? Did Rins lose a motor or just some expensive carbon fiber?

Incredible saves in the rain. A testament to the talent these days.

Also of note, Miller, Digga, and Pol: bikes without a rear tire "spoon"

Miller was the only Ducati who got a good start-all other Ducatis went backwards.

I offer a comparison of the change of engine/chassis of Vinales and Dovisioso to Marquez with this new Honda package. He is going to have to adapt his riding style to get the best out of it, but if he keeps crashing searching for the limit, I fear the toll it takes on him will end his career. I wish him a speedy recovery....concussions suck!

Pacific Nortwest of the U.S.A. methinks. Rains a good bit (all Spring, right through the end of June even). 

I'm here too TZnRD. Portland (been around Portland International Raceway a ton, up to Seattle a bit. Yet to hit The Ridge and want to!).

It is pretty here, nice and green. But if you sit still for more than a moment there is moss growing in your toes.

But with covid restrictions and my age and distance (I'm in Canada, east of Toronto) it seems unlikely I'll make it again. But I have a lot of friends in B.C., so who knows? Dawg willing ... Much appreciate the offer, and I won't forget if I get lucky enough to get out there!

Glad they got through it, the whole weekend was one trial after another to endure. 

-- I didn't enjoy this race -- (just saying it, no big point to make)

Extrapolating very little from it, just not generalizeable. 

Honda bitching about tires. Just dawned on me (tnx FB), THEY DIDN'T RACE WITH THE NEW CARCASS TIRE. Everyone was on medium rains. Pol really makes no sense, Puig not far behind.

Honda ignored every warning sign the bike and tire were giving them. Simon called it   Off throttle rear end slides on corner entry are not good.  Either Honda's vanity or Marc's dogged determination, or both led up to the Sunday morning WUP

 launch.  Blaming Michelin or the circuit is a distraction.

So after the race there was a traffic jam. Franky was stuck and was going to miss his flight to Italy. 

So he talks a motorcycle cop into letting him ride his motorcycle in scooting past traffic. Him in shorts and his Yam shirt, wearing the cop's helmet over his hat. Cop on the back of his own bike.

Picture on GPOne