MotoGP has returned to Indonesia for the first time since 1997 at the new venue on the island of Lombok, which was partially resurfaced following problems during February’s testing.
Due to the extreme heat, tyre supplier Michelin has brought an old tyre casing last raced in 2018 to try and combat the conditions – with the track registering at 43 degrees Celsius for the Moto2 race.
The new tyre has been met with a mixed response, with some noting no significant issues on the old casing – namely the Ducatis and Yamahas – while Honda and Suzuki riders have complained about a lack of rear grip.
Honda’s Pol Espargaro said Michelin’s solution to the tyre issues was “unfair” as he felt it negatively impacted the RC213V, with the Spaniard worried he may not finish the race due to the stress being put on the front end due to the lack of rear grip.
Team-mate Marc Marquez has had numerous big rear end moments all weekend, and suffered a shocking highside crash towards the end of Sunday’s morning warm-up session.
He was taken to hospital for checks and his participation in Sunday’s race remains unknown at this stage.
Due to safety concerns brought about by the extreme track temperatures, MotoGP has announced its first Indonesian GP for 25 years will be reduced from 27 to 20 laps.
Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
A brief message from FIM safety officer Franco Uncini ahead of the Moto2 race – which was also shortened from 25 to 16 laps – read: “We’ve decided to reduce the distance on safety grounds as a result of the high temperatures”.
No other information has been issued by race direction regarding this safety change, though it seems the track is breaking up in some sections.
Shortening race distances over safety fears is not without precedent, with several races having altered lap counts.
Most famously, the 2013 Australian GP distance was shortened and a mandatory pitstop was added due to the track surface destroying Bridgestone’s tyres.
And in Argentina in 2016, a spectacular tyre failure for Scott Redding in practice forced organisers to implement a mandatory bike swap at a reduced distance on safety grounds.