MotoGP have started plans to take the championship back to Indonesia for the first time in two decades, with the Managing Director of the Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation announcing this week that they have signed an agreement to begin hosting a race from 2021.
Set to run on a street circuit in the new development of Mandalika near Lombok, it seems that the track will consist of a series of roads that will be in everyday use – but will be designed from the ground up as a race circuit, complete with safety features like gravel traps and sufficient run-off areas.
However, the news has been taken with a pinch of salt after a series of false starts in seeing the championship return to the South East Asian country. Still very much on the drawing board with construction not yet underway, it’s only one of a number of plans that has been pitched in the last decade.
Indonesia is a bike-mad country, though, with millions of fans and bike owners making it a very important market for Japanese manufacturers. Riders visiting for PR events in recent months have been met with crowds of thousands and Yamaha recently chose capital city Jakarta to host their team launch.
The series last went to Indonesia in 1996, racing for two years at the Sentul circuit just outside Jakarta, with Mick Doohan and Tadayuki Okada premier class winners. A young Valentino Rossi, then in his second season in Grand Prix racing, won in the 125cc class in 1997 en route to the title.