Indonesia’s new MotoGP venue, the Mandalika International Circuit, is to be resurfaced ahead of its first premier-class race on March 20.
The resurfacing, announced by MotoGP governing body the FIM, will come among the agreed measures following riders’ significant concerns about the condition of the track during the three-day pre-season test earlier this month.
The Mandalika Bay track, which was used as the World Superbike season finale venue last year, was in a particularly grip-less state to begin the MotoGP pre-season test. While extensive riding put down sufficient rubber on the racing line, it meant riders could not meaningfully deviate from it without risking crashes and injuries.
It also meant that the race would risk being a single-line procession and, more worryingly, that riders could have trouble launching off the grid at all, as evidenced by the difficulty encountered by riders in practice starts during the test.
More pertinently, though, numerous riders complained that riding the track in its existing state was only feasible one by one, and that riders following others – a situation that is inevitable in any race condition – were being pelted by “one million stones per corner”, as Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro put it. This left several riders bruised and VR46 Ducati rookie Marco Bezzecchi reporting a cracked visor.
Because simply cleaning the track did little to eradicate this particular issue, which was widely seen as being to do with the state and composition of the asphalt rather than any sort of dirt layer, an eventual resurfacing was seen as a must.
And though it was believed there would be no time to make that happen before the March 20 race, an FIM statement has now confirmed it is exactly what is being planned.
“The feedback from riders and teams regarding the layout of the track and its safety standards, including the extensive runoff areas of both Tarmac and gravel, has been overwhelmingly positive,” the statement read.
“During the test, two areas of improvement were identified, which are the cleanliness of the track surface and the excess of aggregate affecting parts of the circuit.
“The FIM, which oversees track homologation, has been in communication with the Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation [ITDC] regarding these necessary improvements, which are to be implemented a minimum of seven days before the inaugural Pertamina Grand Prix of Indonesia.
“Circuit owner ITDC has agreed with the FIM’s assessment and requests, demonstrating their high level of support and commitment to the sport. All parties have reacted quickly and work towards these improvements is already underway, including the resurfacing of part of the track.”
The resurfacing will take place from the run-up to the sharp final corner, Turn 17, all the way to the exit of Turn 5. This means it will cover much of the final sector and the entirety of the first sector, and supposedly eradicate what was seen as one of the main problem areas during the test.
“The FIM and [MotoGP promoter] Dorna would like to thank the ITDC for their incredible support and prompt reaction,” the statement added.
“All parties would also like to assure our Indonesian fans and all those around the world, that the 2022 Pertamina Grand Prix of Indonesia will take place on the planned date, and MotoGP is very much looking forward to returning to Lombok [where the track is located].”