until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


MotoGP riders’ verdict on temporary Mandalika track fixes

by Simon Patterson
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

The opening day of track action at Indonesia’s new grand prix venue has been met with tentative approval from the MotoGP grid.

The emergency resurfacing repairs implemented following last month’s test there have gone some way to addressing riders’ concerns – but very much remain a temporary measure ahead of a planned full resurfacing.

The problems with the asphalt at the Mandalika Bay track became readily apparent on the opening day of February’s three-day test, as stones started to come loose from the surface, turning the circuit into a veritable shooting range as 300 horsepower MotoGP bikes fired them back into the machines following behind them.

That left a number of riders sporting impressive bruises after testing – and with much more need to follow closely behind other bikes in a race than during testing, rider feedback was that an urgent solution was needed to address the issue.

The fix was a hasty resurfacing of one third of the venue – all that was possible given the time constraints and available equipment and personnel – with a full resurfacing of the year-old track due as soon as the race weekend is completed.

And while the worst of the issue with the stones might now be addressed after the most-affected 1.6km of the circuit was resurfaced, it’s not entirely fixed, something apparent from the riders’ comments following their first experience of the repairs.

“I prefer the old asphalt, like in the test,” admitted LCR Honda rider Alex Marquez, “because everything was the same then. It’s changing quite a lot, there are some new bumps, and it’s something quite strange.

“It’s something that’s for everyone, but there are still some stones still, too. They’re smaller stones compared to the test, but they are still there.”


The stones are something that VR46 Ducati rider Luca Marini discovered first hand, too, with his morning’s action delayed due to a technical problem caused directly by the surface – and one that is perhaps more familiar to road racers at places like the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix than at a MotoGP race.

“It wasn’t a lucky day,” he explained. “This morning, I spent half of the practice in the garage because one stone hit my radiator and broke it.

“I lost a lot of time because we didn’t understand what was happening to the bike, and then the mechanics found the problem.

“It’s something that happens in a track like this that every time is dirty.”

Though the patchwork repair job might have prevented the worst of the issues, it’s created another issue for riders: rendering much of the work done at last month’s test largely useless and sending them back to square one with their set-ups, especially when combined with Michelin’s reversion to an older (and harder) specification of rear tyre carcass to cope with the expected extreme track temperatures.

“Everything has changed a lot,” said Suzuki’s Joan Mir. “The heat is more, also the new asphalt compared to the old asphalt has less grip.

“The track was more grippy but more difficult. This time, it’s more flat, more rideable and you’re able to follow other riders, which was impossible in the test.”

And while one issue might have been in part solved, or at least rectified enough to allow the race to go ahead safely, another one remains: just how dirty the track is as construction work continues around the area in a race to complete not just circuit facilities but key infrastructure projects ahead of Sunday’s race.


That leaves a circuit that at least for now is very much only a single bike wide and potentially set to produce rather dull racing unless it improves significantly.

It’s also left riders unable to try out their starts – a situation which has prompted an additional exceptional practice session in every class tomorrow.

The decision, still not officially reported by series bosses, was nonetheless confirmed by Gresini Ducati rider Fabio Di Giannantonio, one of the few riders to speak to the media after Friday’s safety commission meeting, where the plan was agreed among the riders.

“We spoke about the starts, because this is now the topic of the moment,” he said. “It’s quite dangerous to practice the starts with 300 horsepower on the dust.

“Tomorrow we will try a practice starts on the grid, all the classes, to try and clean that area, and then we will do another meeting to try and understand how it works. We will try it just after FP3. We will stop in the box, and then the pit will open for just one minute.”

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