It has been 22 years since the last time Indonesia held a motorcycle racing Grand Prix. The dream of watching riders in action burst again in 2015. Unfortunately, the meeting between Dorna Sports SL, the Government of Indonesia and Sentul Circuit ended in failure.
A year later, Alex Noerdin – at that time was South Sumatra Governor – visited Sepang during the Malaysian MotoGP to meet with Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta. The two sides discussed about using the Jakabaring in Palembang, on South Sumatra, as the location of the race. However, that failed too.
Now, the country’s dream to host the prestigious racing event seems closer to reality. The Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) is currently building new circuit – it has apparently been in preparation since 2017 – in the Mandalika special economic zone, Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB).
The ITDC is a state-owned enterprise that specializes in the development and management of integrated tourism complexes. The ITDC is fully owned by the Republic of Indonesia, represented by the Government of the Republic of Indonesia/Ministry of State-Owned Enterprises (BUMN), in which the Republic of Indonesia becomes the final parent entity.
ITDC's efforts to bring MotoGP back are no joke. The Master Land Utilization and Development Agreement (LUDA) contract signed with Vinci Construction Grands Projets (VCGP) – bringing an investment of US$ 1 billion – will be used for land use and development covering 131 hectares, including Mandalika street circuit.
MotoGP and WorldSBK
After signing the Promoters’ Contracts at Dorna’s office in Madrid, Spain on 28th January 2019 – the agreement confirms that Indonesia will welcome MotoGP and World Superbike in 2021 to the island of Lombok, more specifically within Mandalika, which is a large scale integrated tourism estate – ITDC then appointed Mrk1 Consulting, along with RoadGrip Motorsport, to plan, implement, and run a new circuit.
In order to prove the seriousness and commitment to hosting a MotoGP race, ITDC launched the Mandalika Grand Prix Association (MGPA) during the event in Sudirman Central Business District (SCBD), Jakarta last month. The organizer also showed off a race simulation of the Mandalika Circuit, which will be 4.31 kilometers layout featuring 17 corners.
Key persons attending the event included State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir, Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama, Dorna Sporting Director Carlos Ezpeleta and MotoGP legend Mick Doohan.
MGPA, a business unit of state-owned ITDC, will be responsible for managing and operating the Mandalika International Street Circuit through organizing world-class motor racing and entertainment events. “ITDC handed over the mandate to manage the 2021 Indonesian MotoGP to MGPA,” said Abdulbar M Mansoer, President Director of ITDC.
“It’s a five year-contract, from 2021 until 2025. We indeed chose like this (street circuit). When there is no race, we will use it for public roads.
“We will host the World Superbike and MotoGP rounds back-to-back. Why? Because we are a street race. Grandstands would also be more efficient if we hosted (two races) at a time, but that depends on Dorna. Surely we will try to have World Superbike and MotoGP back-to-back in order to become more efficient," he explained.
Given the responsibility of running the Indonesian MotoGP round by ITDC, MGPA is optimistic that fans will fill the grandstands. MGPA CEO Ricky Baheramsjah said that his side will continue to discuss finalizing the circuit homologation with the Indonesian Motor Association (IMI) and the FIM. MGPA will also work with IMI to conduct training for around 300 residents of the West Nusa Tenggara region, who will later serve as marshals during the event.
Aside from being an open circuit and presenting beautiful scenery, Baheramsjah said that Mandalika had another exceptional factor, namely the level of accessibility. The Mandalika International Street Circuit is only 30 minutes from Lombok International Airport. Fans can also reach Lombok via Bali, either by air or land and sea.
How about the circuit progress? Construction started in September 2019 and is now entering the groundwork phase. The work on laying the asphalt will begin in January 2020 and be carried out by PT Waskita Karya (Persero) Tbk, and will be finished by the end of next year. MGPA assures that the development process is still on track.
“The earthwork is already 30% done and it should be finished by June next year. But before we finish on the earthwork, we can already start the track itself (asphalting) around January time,” Baheramsjah told MotoMatters.com.
“We will work in parallel together so that by the end of next year, in 2020, the track will be done and we will be ready for the pre-season test that Dorna has allocated for us (February 2021).
“We’ve been working very, very closely with Dorna and the FIM to make sure that the track we’ve been designing and that we are building is according to the safety standards as well,” he stressed.
A different type of street circuit
The concept of a street circuit might be somewhat misleading. Moreover, the track is used for normal traffic when there are no races. Although there is concern about the condition of the asphalt, MGPA guarantees that the Mandalika International Street Circuit is a track created specifically based on FIM's standards and regulations.
Baheramsjah also revealed that MGPA has a special standard operating procedure (SOP). There will be limited access of vehicles when entering and leaving the Mandalika area in order to limit the wear to the asphalt and maintain it in good condition, so it will stay smooth and undamaged when used for the MotoGP race.
“We have a special SOP. The one thing that we cannot have on the (track) surface is large truck and construction vehicles, but small vehicles, like cars, bikes and things like that is very open. Keep in mind that we are applying very high quality standards. So to have pedestrian people walking (around) or cars like small vehicles, as well as bikes is not a problem for the circuit,” he said.
“The good thing about this is because we designed the circuit from the beginning. We are able to build underpasses. We are able to build alternative roads to take you around The Mandalika. So there is minimum disturbance of the circuit itself,” he continued.
However, one vital factor for a MotoGP race is the hospital. In this case, it can be supported by medevac. FIM Standards for Circuits regulations state: “The designated hospital should normally be within 20 minutes by air and 45 minutes by road. If the hospital is not within a reasonable distance of the event and transfer by helicopter is not possible, consideration should be given to stopping the event. To ensure the availability of a helicopter at all times during the event, it is recommended that 2 helicopters be available.”
Responding to this, Baheramsjah answered that some medical facilities are already available in Lombok. The MGPA even conducted a survey there too. "With regards to applying this survey quickly, we also provide medevac which is very usual for MotoGP race. We are also developing temporary medical facilities on site in the first season in 2021, in order to meet the FIM's regulations and safety standards as well," he said.
“The nearest hospital is in Mataram but in the future Mandalika needs to have a hospital like in Nusa Dua. Right now there's BIMC International Hospital in Nusa Dua. In the future Mandalika will have its own hospital and it will be designed and built for motorsport races, where you need trauma units, burns units. That's the most important thing really.
“After that we can make decision about what kind of hospital are we going to build in the long-term future, whether it is sufficient or whether we need to evacuate to the different hospital. It’s very similar to Sepang. They have medevac and they fly directly to hospital in Kuala Lumpur,” he added.
Owning the land
In the midst of the tumult of welcoming an Indonesian MotoGP in 2021, land acquisition problems are arising. German media, Speedweek, recently reported about a land owner named Gema Lazzuardi who refused to leave their land before the owner of the circuit paid compensation.
Regarding this matter, Corporate Secretary of ITDC Miranti Redranti asserted that her side was not worried at all. She made sure the problem would not interfere with the circuit construction, while ensuring the MotoGP project in Mandalika would continue to run according to schedule.
“The land that has not been acquired has already been registered as an enclave. At the moment the process is land acquisition with compensation based on appraisal,” she explained.
“Whereas for land owners who feel unpaid and not included on the enclave land list, they are welcome to submit legal certainty to the relevant agencies accompanied by legal proof of ownership," she continued.
Despite the issue of land acquisition, as well as unfinished circuit construction, MGPA made the bold move of offering 20,000 tickets through a prebooking system, starting from January 20 until August 2020 via themandalikagp.com. These tickets will go on sale later on the motogp.com website.
By prebooking tickets, fans will have the opportunity to choose seats either in the grandstands or General Admission. And those who prebooked would be prioritized for ticket purchase once the 2021 calendar is released. They would also receive benefits, including the ability to choose their seating category as well as supporting services, such as parking zone during the race.
“Nevertheless, we have not decided the ticket price because we’re still discussing it with Dorna. The ticket price will depend on the race day and seating category,” said Redranti.
“The plan is tickets will be sold start at Rp295,000 (around US$ 21). This is for General Admission, for the first day, Friday, practice day. Spectators can enter the circuit, can walk around the Mandalika area, but don’t have a seat allocation,” she added.
It’s worth waiting for the construction of the Mandalika International Street Circuit, because it’s no secret anymore that Dorna desperately want a MotoGP race in Indonesia, which is also the biggest market for manufacturers. Only time will tell when this country’s dream comes true.
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