Dorna Approves Progress Of Mandalika Circuit In Indonesia - First Contours Of 2022 Calendar Appear

Today, Dorna issued a press release praising the progress being made in the construction of the Mandalika International Street Circuit, the new circuit being built inside the Mandalika tourist resort on the island of Lombok in Indonesia. FIM Safety Officer Franco Uncini, Race Direction representative Loris Capirossi, and Dorna Managing Director Carlos Ezpeleta, son of CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, visited the Mandalika site to assess progress and the safety of the site.

During their meeting, the Dorna and FIM staff agreed a tentative schedule for events with representatives from the Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) and the Mandalika Grand Prix Association (MGPA). The plans for a World Superbike round in November were reaffirmed, subject to international travel being possible despite the Covid-19 pandemic. The parties also agreed to hold the inaugural MotoGP round at the circuit there in March 2022, with the option of a MotoGP test at the circuit during the Asian flyaways in October, should those races happen.

Setting a provisional date for the Indonesian Grand Prix draws the outlines for the possible start of the 2022 MotoGP season. There had been plans to move the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island to the start of the season for 2021, but the pandemic put paid to that idea. The idea had previously met with resistance from the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, but last year, the organization which runs both the F1 and MotoGP races changed its mind, giving such a move their blessing.

With Mandalika set for March, the 2022 season could kick off at Phillip Island, before moving to Indonesia. From there, the series would fly to Qatar, and then on to Austin and the Circuit of the Americas, before heading back to Europe for the summer round of races, starting in Jerez.

Switching the Phillip island race to be the MotoGP season opener may not be popular with the Losail International Circuit in Qatar, which currently holds a contract to be the first race of the season. However, with Saudi Arabia pushing to hold both an F1 race and a MotoGP race, that has given Dorna leverage in the negotiations. Paddock rumor suggests that one condition for a race in Saudi Arabia happening is that Dorna would drop the race at Qatar. Dorna can use that to persuade Qatar to accept a change of date for the race, and turn down the offer from Saudi Arabia.

The other reason for rejecting the advances of Saudi Arabia is the country's appalling human rights record, its proxy war in Yemen, which has seen thousands of civilians to die, and the country's habit of murdering journalists such as Jamal Khashoggi and imprisoning women's rights campaigners such as Loujain al-Hathloul.

The Mandalika International Street Circuit is not without its own controversy, however. The United Nations Human Rights Council issued a statement condemning abuses by the Indonesian government over the building of the circuit and the wider resort. The report condemned the aggressive seizing of land from farmers and fishing families, forced evictions of Sasak indigenous peoples, and intimidation and threats against human rights activists.

“Farmers and fisher folks have been expelled from their land and have endured the destruction of their houses, fields, water sources, cultural and religious sites, as the Government of Indonesia and the ITDC (Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation) groomed Mandalika to become a ‘New Bali’,” said Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

“Credible sources have found that the local residents were subjected to threats and intimidations and forcibly evicted from their land without compensation. Despite these findings, the ITDC has not sought to pay compensation or settle the land disputes,” UN human rights experts said.

As with the maltreatment and abuse of migrant workers in Qatar, such abuses will not prevent the event from going ahead, of course.

Below is the press release from Dorna:

FIM and Dorna representatives visit Mandalika International Street Circuit
The new Indonesian track, on the Island of Lombok, is on course to welcome MotoGP™ and WorldSBK
Friday, 09 April 2021

Following the TISSOT Grand Prix of Doha, representatives from the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) and Dorna Sports have undertaken an inspection of Mandalika International Street Circuit on Wednesday, 7th of April 2021. The visit to Lombok, where the circuit is under construction, was made by FIM Grand Prix Safety Officer Franco Uncini, Dorna Race Direction Representative Loris Capirossi and Dorna Sports Managing Director Carlos Ezpeleta in order to assess the progress made on the remarkable site.

During the inspection process, the representatives of the FIM and Dorna Sports, who were welcomed by President Director of PT Pengembangan Pariwisata Indonesia (Persero) or Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation / ITDC Abdulbar M. Mansoer and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Mandalika Grand Prix Association (MGPA) Ricky Baheramsjah, were impressed by the evolution of the project as well as the safety standards implemented.

The target remains for the new Mandalika International Street Circuit to host the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship on the 14th of November 2021. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all parties involved agreed to hold the first FIM MotoGP™ World Championship Grand Prix at the track in the first part of the 2022 season, in principle during March. However, if MotoGP™ is able to hold events in South East Asia towards the end of 2021, efforts will be made to undertake a possible test of the MotoGP™ Class Teams at Mandalika International Street Circuit during that time period in anticipation of the track’s inclusion on the calendar in 2022.

Indonesia State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir stated, “I fully support the MotoGP™ event to be held in March 2022. This is in line with the Indonesian government’s accelerated national vaccination programme. We want to guarantee the safety of both domestic and international visitors.”

President Director of ITDC Abdulbar M. Mansoer stated, “We thank the FIM and Dorna for coming and conducting the technical visit which went well and met their expectations. By knowing the firm month for MotoGP™ event, we are assured of focusing on finishing the Mandalika International Street Circuit development project, while also maximizing the value that this world class sporting event has to offer.”

"The visit to Lombok was very successful and we can confirm that the Mandalika International Street Circuit will be one of the most important venues of the calendar in the future. We also know that the fans from Indonesia will attend massively and the GPs will become one of the most iconic ones of the whole season. Indonesia is a key market, not only for Dorna but for all the stakeholders of the Championship", commented Carmelo Ezpeleta, Dorna CEO.


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The track, politics, Portimao grip

Thank you David for being a lone stand out Journo including straight talk like "Qatar regime" abuses, sport washing, and money for Dorna turning eyes away. As unpopular as it may be, The Saudis have a nightmare record. It boggles for instance the bizarre narrative manipulation of their 9-11 terrorism in the USA to having something to do with Iraq, et al. One could go on of course, but this is not the place for such things beyond brief mention.

Which brings me to ask why there is not any mention of what the street track in Indonesia will be like?! Shouldn't that be first and foremost on a motorsport site?

Speaking of which, one and only one thing is on my mind right now: the Portimao track. A) it is gorgeous, we are about to get a 2nd visit to the Roller Coaster of Motorcycle Racing Dreams. B) Grip, the track surface, and tires. Last November it was a fresh resurface. This year it isn't so green anymore, but still has more to come in that regard. It has sweepers with little braking. The asymmetrical hard rear gets a workout. Grip was...odd last year. This time we get to see something a bit more normal. Will the Suzukis get it right this time re electronics? More importantly, what are we going to see of the 2021 Yamaha which went HORRIBLY there whilst the 2019 was fine? How high will we rate the grip level when they arrive? How will it change with rubber down, data, set up and electronics? KTM, Oliveira and Binder...will they take the pointy end? This 2021 Ducati can turn, watch the riding style of the Pramac guys in Portugal. Aprilia can do well here, and so can Dovisioso. Honda crashes, how many? Lots. But not for Marc Marquez...for a change. Who we are thinking we are about to see in FP1. With Dovisioso on a fast Aprilia? 

The bikes will be catching air in flight, then careening into chicanery. It will be one of the most cherished moments of the YEAR for motorcycle racing fans that have a pulse. Put your finger on it. Soon!

Video, 4 mins, a few days old. Arial fly over the flow of the track. It looks ok? Nothing special? They have enough done to give you the basic gist of it. Needs a bit more runoff on T10! Can you see elevation change, or us it as flat at this view shows? I bet it isn't ready for a test this yr if this is current. That looks like more than a handful of months of work even optimistically.

Anyone else think it would be preferable to upgrade safety and facilities on several of our beloved tracks of distinction and character rather than add basic tracks in emerging markets? Yeah, me too. (Sigh).

Can't wait for this track. Elevation changes are great for us fans. The run up from Mugello turn 1, 7/8 at Laguna, Lukey Heights.

Agreed 'Shrink, to modify the classic tracks is better than abandoning them.


Mr. Emmett, I commend you for commenting on the conditions in some of the countries that host, or hope to host, Moto GP events. Just one thing about the complaints about the Mandalika circuit ... the complaining body, the U.N. Human Rights Council, has such outstanding international members as China, Congo, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and others of that ilk ... always best to take a grain of salt with the meal when served up by such a group.

On to Portimao!

Hi Larry, Motoshrink,

I disagree on one important point, if the human rights conditions in these countries are so bad how can DORNA go ahead and ignore this fact, F1 and the FIM are already bad enough, does DORNA really want to go down this route just for some $$$$. I agre with you Larry on the U.N.'s record of doing sweet F.A. on anything important in the past half a century but if peoples lifes are being screwed up just to build a new track, that certainly isn't worth it in my opinion. And don't get me wrong, I love Moto GP and love the posibility of new tracks but at what cost ? Qater, Saudi and now Indonesia, is that ok while it doesn't affect us, what if next week at was an EU Country, or Australia, South Africa etc, if the same things were happening in those countries would we just as easily accept that, I only ask as I've worked in all of the above countries at one stage or other in my career and it sickens me that we can ignore "some" atrocities because they are "far away" where as if they were happening close to home we would be outraged. Forgive my outburst, I read Motomatters religiously and love the forum and all your opinions although I hardly ever comment myself, and apologies as I do realise this is a racing platform but some things I cannot just ignore. I'll shut up now.

don't we just boycott those raes, do not watch them, attend them, talk about the 'sport' there, and instead talk about the abuses comitted there and so on. I will certainly not watch any Saudi racing,well it's only F1 at this stage and that's boring as!

Thanks for your comment, and I think the perspective you raised was particularly valid. I do hope you feel free to comment on anything on motomatters cause the forum is very grown up and reasonable - more so than the world at large for my money! The differentiation here is that in some of the countries you mentioned it is legal to state your rejection of a particular policy and that the oppression conerned generally doesn't amount to state sanctioned murder or genecide. If DORNA embraces locations that cross that line it will be sayonara from me! But to further support your point: I reckon motorcycling is a hearts and minds business and that the community will not support expansion into human rights sinkholes and stay on board. I know many people who used to follow Qatar avidly who won't go near it now. I would, at this point, take this opportunity to say to my own government that their treatment of refgees is utterly terrible and I think that they must be fundamentally horrible people for having enacted it, but I do so without real fear of retribution. So, thanks for your comment.

Talking of the 2022 calendar, do you have any news David, as to what's happening with the Brazil race? Has construction even started? As a reminder, Dorna agreed a deal in late 2019 to return to Rio de Janeiro at a new venue. Heard absolutely nothing more since this was announced 18 months ago and rather skeptical it's not going to happen. Feel like it's been completely forgotten about. Dorna have a habit of announcing deals with new venues that eventually never get going. To name a few, Balatonring, Circuit of Wales, another Brazilian track that was meant to be on the calendar in the mid 2010s.

Thanks for linking to the stories about the human rights stuff.

It just makes me more angry that Dorna didn't want to work harder (and put up some money) to fix up Brno.

Instead, because it's cheaper, or has greater pay-off in the long run, they've asked the government in a developing country to evict a bunch of locals, so they can use off-shore funds to create a luxury park for rich tourists.

Boooooooo! Hissssss!