MotoGP last raced in Indonesia in 1997 at the Sentul circuit, while FP1 on Friday marks the Mandalika track’s first world championship racing action since November’s World Superbike finale.
The grid already has experience of Mandalika, having completed the final three days of pre-season testing at the track just over a month ago.
Since the test, Michelin has brought different rear tyres for the Indonesian GP, with a harder rear casing last raced in Thailand in 2018 being used in response to the extreme temperatures at Mandalika.
Heavy overnight rain soaked the track, but a dry line had appeared by the time MotoGP took to the circuit for its first 45-minute practice of the weekend.
Lap times began at over 11 seconds off the benchmark of 1m31.060s set by Honda’s Espargaro on the final day of the Mandalika test in February.
KTM’s Miguel Oliveira set the early pacesetter with a 1m42.301s, but that lap time would be whittled down as a host of riders took turns topping the times.
With 15 minutes remaining, Honda’s Espargaro – who sits third in the standings after his third place in the Qatar GP – led the timesheets with a 1m34.476s.
This stood as the reference lap for the next 11 minutes, before Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli guided his M1 to a 1m33.881s.
Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing
Photo by: Akhil Puthiyedath
Yamaha will be looking to replicate its strong form from the Mandalika test this weekend after a disastrous Qatar GP, in which none of its riders appeared inside the top eight in the first race of 2022.
While Morbidelli would end FP1 fourth fastest and 0.382s off the pace after a late time attack on fresh soft rubber, reigning world champion team-mate Quartararo cut a frustrated figure at the end of the session as he took the chequered flag 1.294s down in 16th.
A late flurry of fast laps at the end of the session resulted in Pol Espargaro going fastest of all with a 1m33.499s, with KTM’s Oliveira 0.044s adrift in second.
Marc Marquez ensured both factory team Hondas occupied top three spots in third ahead of Morbidelli and the first of the Ducatis in the form of Pramac’s Johann Zarco.
Aleix Espargaro rounded out the top six on the Aprilia, with KTM’s Brad Binder and current championship leader Enea Bastianini on the Gresini Ducati trailing.
The Qatar GP winner was shadowed by Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia, with Joan Mir leading the Suzuki charge in 10th ahead of Jack Miller on the sister factory Ducati and RNF Racing Yamaha’s Andrea Dovizioso.
Having suffered a violent crash in testing at Mandalika last month, Tech3 rookie Raul Fernandez was a strong 13th at the end of FP1 ahead of LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami and Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales.
Alex Rins made a low-key start to the Indonesian GP down in 17th behind Quartararo, while Qatar poleman Jorge Martin was 21st on his Pramac Ducati.
Though several riders made mistakes, there were no crashes in the opening practice at Mandalika.
MotoGP FP2 for the 2022 Indonesian GP gets underway at 3:05pm local time (7:05am GMT).
2022 MotoGP Indonesia GP – Full first practice results: