MotoGP Gets One Step Closer to a Road Race in Indonesia

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On Tuesday, Dorna issued a press release together with the Indonesian Tourism Development Company, or ITDC, that brought an Indonesian round of MotoGP one step closer to reality.

If the plans come to fruition, MotoGP could be racing on a specially-adapted street circuit on the island of Lombok as early as 2021.

Carmelo Ezpeleta and his son (and MotoGP Sporting Director) Carlos visited Nusa Dua, in the south of Bali, one of Indonesia’s favorite destinations for tourists, as guest of the ITDC. While he was there, they hopped across to Lombok, the next island east of Bali, to visit the Mandalika tourist resort on the south coast of Lombok, which is currently under development. 

The plan is for a race to be organized on a circuit using the public roads inside the resort. This is the ‘street race’ which was rumored much earlier in the year, but about which few details had emerged.

Safety concerns are much easier to address, as the layout of the tourist resort will feature wide roads and plenty of open spaces, with plenty of room to create gravel traps and run off. 

Dorna have been very keen to organize a race in Indonesia, both because it is a key market for the manufacturers in MotoGP, and because of the enormous and enthusiastic fan base in the country.

They have previously been in discussion with the Sentul circuit, just outside the Indonesian capital Jakarta, and also at a new circuit to be built at Palembang, on the island of Sumatra.

Those plans fell through, in part over arguments over financing, and in the case of Sentul, because of political disputes with Tommy Suharto, son of the former president, who is directly involved with the circuit. 

One problem faced by Dorna in organizing a race in Indonesia was the combination of corruption and bureaucracy.

There were fears among those involved in the running of a MotoGP weekend that logistics would be difficult, as getting goods through customs on time, and without paying significant bribes, could prove to be a huge challenge, and make the event much more expensive than it would otherwise be. 

Organizing a race at the Mandalika tourist resort would get around a lot of those problems. Mandalika is a so-called Special Economic Tourism Zone, and as such, is exempt from most customs rules for imports into Indonesia.

Getting the bikes and equipment into and out of Lombok is much easier, as they are technically never imported into Indonesia, reducing the chances of corruption. Furthermore, organizing a race inside of the Mandalika resort would mean that the entire event is being run by the resort, and as such, would remove much of the corruption caused by local officials.

The fact that the event is to be run by the ITDC is also a benefit here, as the government agency has the authority to ensure that the necessary bureaucracy and paperwork is kept to a minimum, as well as the political power to back that up.

Though there is still much to be done before an Indonesian MotoGP race can happen, this project looks the most promising of those which have been proposed so far. The next step would be for a contract to be signed for a race, which would likely be sometime next year, or early 2020 at the latest. 

Photo: MotoGP

David Emmett

One of MotoGP's most respected journalists, David Emmett is the proprietor of the esteemed MotoMatters. We are very grateful to republish David's work here on A&R...though dread the day we ever again get in a car with him.