It is no secret that Dorna and the manufacturers active in MotoGP are keen to stage a race in Indonesia. The sport enjoys unrivaled popularity in the Southeast Asian country, and as one of the biggest markets for scooters and small capacity motorcycles in the world, Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki are desperate to race there. The burgeoning middle class in Indonesia also make it a key target market for European manufacturers such as Ducati, who have seen their sales explode in the region, albeit from a very small base.
Throughout 2015, Dorna officials met with senior figures in Indonesia, including the Minister for Youth and Sports, Imam Nahrawi, and the CEO of the Sentul Circuit Tinton Soeprapto, in an attempt to hammer out an agreement. So far, Dorna have a letter of intent signed by the Minister, and a preliminary deal which would see the race staged in Indonesia for three years, starting in 2017.
There is one problem, however. The Indonesian government do not want to use Sentul Circuit. For the track to be homologated for MotoGP, the surface and facilities would have to be totally renewed and upgraded. Hermann Tilke, the man responsible for many circuits designed for F1 around the world, has been contracted to upgrade the circuit, and modify the layout to make it safer and long enough to qualify as a Grand Prix track. Such a renovation would require major investment, which would have to come from the Indonesian government. The government does not want to supply funding to the private owners of Sentul, for fear that much of the money would disappear in corruption and bribes.
This disagreement has already caused a delay. The Indonesian government has missed the deadline to submit a master plan and contract for the race, but the Minister for Youth and Sports has negotiated an extended deadline. Hosting a race in 2017 will be very difficult indeed, but the government hopes to have everything in place for 2018.
The most crucial element of that plan is a circuit. Several alternative locations have been proposed, including a number of planned new circuits. One circuit is planned to be build in Southern Sumatra, but the objections to that are the distance to a major international airport and population centers. There are also rival plans for circuits in and around the Indonesian capital Jakarta, including a track to be built in the western part of Java.
However, MotoMatters.com has learned that the prime candidate is a new circuit to be built not far from the center of Jakarta. The track will be located to the west of the city, between the airport and the city center. Sources indicate that funding is already in place for the track, and work could begin very soon. The new circuit would be publicly owned, and could potentially be ready for 2017.
There are still many obstacles on the road to a MotoGP race taking place in Indonesia, but the process of making it happen appears to be picking up pace. Given the massive interest in Indonesia, it is merely a matter of time.