Today, Dorna issued a press release praising the progress being made in the construction of the Mandalika International Street Circuit, the new circuit being built inside the Mandalika tourist resort on the island of Lombok in Indonesia. FIM Safety Officer Franco Uncini, Race Direction representative Loris Capirossi, and Dorna Managing Director Carlos Ezpeleta, son of CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, visited the Mandalika site to assess progress and the safety of the site.
During their meeting, the Dorna and FIM staff agreed a tentative schedule for events with representatives from the Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) and the Mandalika Grand Prix Association (MGPA). The plans for a World Superbike round in November were reaffirmed, subject to international travel being possible despite the Covid-19 pandemic. The parties also agreed to hold the inaugural MotoGP round at the circuit there in March 2022, with the option of a MotoGP test at the circuit during the Asian flyaways in October, should those races happen.
Setting a provisional date for the Indonesian Grand Prix draws the outlines for the possible start of the 2022 MotoGP season. There had been plans to move the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island to the start of the season for 2021, but the pandemic put paid to that idea. The idea had previously met with resistance from the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, but last year, the organization which runs both the F1 and MotoGP races changed its mind, giving such a move their blessing.
With Mandalika set for March, the 2022 season could kick off at Phillip Island, before moving to Indonesia. From there, the series would fly to Qatar, and then on to Austin and the Circuit of the Americas, before heading back to Europe for the summer round of races, starting in Jerez.
Switching the Phillip island race to be the MotoGP season opener may not be popular with the Losail International Circuit in Qatar, which currently holds a contract to be the first race of the season. However, with Saudi Arabia pushing to hold both an F1 race and a MotoGP race, that has given Dorna leverage in the negotiations. Paddock rumor suggests that one condition for a race in Saudi Arabia happening is that Dorna would drop the race at Qatar. Dorna can use that to persuade Qatar to accept a change of date for the race, and turn down the offer from Saudi Arabia.
The other reason for rejecting the advances of Saudi Arabia is the country's appalling human rights record, its proxy war in Yemen, which has seen thousands of civilians to die, and the country's habit of murdering journalists such as Jamal Khashoggi and imprisoning women's rights campaigners such as Loujain al-Hathloul.
The Mandalika International Street Circuit is not without its own controversy, however. The United Nations Human Rights Council issued a statement condemning abuses by the Indonesian government over the building of the circuit and the wider resort. The report condemned the aggressive seizing of land from farmers and fishing families, forced evictions of Sasak indigenous peoples, and intimidation and threats against human rights activists.
“Farmers and fisher folks have been expelled from their land and have endured the destruction of their houses, fields, water sources, cultural and religious sites, as the Government of Indonesia and the ITDC (Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation) groomed Mandalika to become a ‘New Bali’,” said Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.
“Credible sources have found that the local residents were subjected to threats and intimidations and forcibly evicted from their land without compensation. Despite these findings, the ITDC has not sought to pay compensation or settle the land disputes,” UN human rights experts said.
As with the maltreatment and abuse of migrant workers in Qatar, such abuses will not prevent the event from going ahead, of course.
Below is the press release from Dorna:
FIM and Dorna representatives visit Mandalika International Street Circuit
The new Indonesian track, on the Island of Lombok, is on course to welcome MotoGP™ and WorldSBK
Friday, 09 April 2021
Following the TISSOT Grand Prix of Doha, representatives from the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) and Dorna Sports have undertaken an inspection of Mandalika International Street Circuit on Wednesday, 7th of April 2021. The visit to Lombok, where the circuit is under construction, was made by FIM Grand Prix Safety Officer Franco Uncini, Dorna Race Direction Representative Loris Capirossi and Dorna Sports Managing Director Carlos Ezpeleta in order to assess the progress made on the remarkable site.
During the inspection process, the representatives of the FIM and Dorna Sports, who were welcomed by President Director of PT Pengembangan Pariwisata Indonesia (Persero) or Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation / ITDC Abdulbar M. Mansoer and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Mandalika Grand Prix Association (MGPA) Ricky Baheramsjah, were impressed by the evolution of the project as well as the safety standards implemented.
The target remains for the new Mandalika International Street Circuit to host the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship on the 14th of November 2021. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all parties involved agreed to hold the first FIM MotoGP™ World Championship Grand Prix at the track in the first part of the 2022 season, in principle during March. However, if MotoGP™ is able to hold events in South East Asia towards the end of 2021, efforts will be made to undertake a possible test of the MotoGP™ Class Teams at Mandalika International Street Circuit during that time period in anticipation of the track’s inclusion on the calendar in 2022.
Indonesia State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir stated, “I fully support the MotoGP™ event to be held in March 2022. This is in line with the Indonesian government’s accelerated national vaccination programme. We want to guarantee the safety of both domestic and international visitors.”
President Director of ITDC Abdulbar M. Mansoer stated, “We thank the FIM and Dorna for coming and conducting the technical visit which went well and met their expectations. By knowing the firm month for MotoGP™ event, we are assured of focusing on finishing the Mandalika International Street Circuit development project, while also maximizing the value that this world class sporting event has to offer.”
"The visit to Lombok was very successful and we can confirm that the Mandalika International Street Circuit will be one of the most important venues of the calendar in the future. We also know that the fans from Indonesia will attend massively and the GPs will become one of the most iconic ones of the whole season. Indonesia is a key market, not only for Dorna but for all the stakeholders of the Championship", commented Carmelo Ezpeleta, Dorna CEO.