November 2021, Invest Islands
“The Final Two-Week Countdown of Inaugural Race at Indonesian Mandalika Circuit@
“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 MotoGP Lombok calendar in the future”— Carmelo Ezpeleta, Dorna MotoGP CEO, April 2021.
The time has now come – after 24-years in the making and weathering the global pandemic – that the Lombok Circuit has been ‘gearing up’ and is finally ready to host its inaugural event this November 19-21.
The MGPA (Mandalika Grand Prix Association) is ready for the World Superbike or WSBK Mandalika Motorcycle Race in Lombok this month.
“It is an honour for us as part of Telkom Indonesia to be involved in this international motorcycle racing event,” said PT Melon Indonesia CEO Dedi Suhurman in a recent press release.
There are 25,000 tickets available with 11,000 offered up online since October 23 through PT Melon Indonesia – who is the holding company of Telkom Indonesia, one of the main sponsors. The ticket seats are divided into six categories ranging from IDR 795, 000 (USD 55) to IDR 2.8 million (USD 196)
For the first time since 1997, WSBK will be back in Indonesia with the final round of the 2021 season set to take place, at the scenic Mandalika International Street Circuit located on the Island of Lombok, east of Bali.
Twenty-Four Years in The Making
The inclusion will represent a giant leap for Lombok, which is located in West Nusa Tenggara and has been identified by the Indonesian Government as a key focal point for economic growth through tourism and property investment. Already attracting hundreds of investors each year, the hope is major international events such as the MotoGP – as well as Formula One, which has not been ruled out for the future too – can turn Lombok into a year-round sporting destination. Lombok MotoGP will be a fabulous venue host offering accommodation set in paradise.
The Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) signed a deal with Dorna Sports for MotoGP hosting rights in 2018, marking a historic breakthrough both for Lombok and the sport. With a population close to 270 million, the country famously boasts the largest motor-racing fanbase in the world, yet has hosted a race just twice in history and been absent from the racing calendar for more than two decades.
The 1996 and 1997 Marlboro Indonesian Grands Prix were both held at Sentul International Circuit in Bogor, West Java, and with the MotoGP era only starting in 2002, featured three different racing classes: 125cc, 250cc and the MotoGP equivalent 500cc. Watched on by around 50,000 spectators, Mike Doohan won the inaugural race before Tadayuki Okada took top spot on the podium a year later. Notably, an 18-year-old Valentino Rossi, who would go on to win seven MotoGP world championships, triumphed in the 125cc category in 1997.
That same year, a financial crisis across Asia prompted the race to be dropped from the 1998 calendar and it never returned as the likes of Thailand, China and Malaysia’s Sepang Circuit jumping ahead. Yet with the financial situation of the country strengthening, Indonesia is firmly back in the sports tourism sector. In 2018, it hosted the Asian Games, a year later held the ASEAN School Games, and has formally bid for the 2032 Summer Olympics.
A Trillion In One
Part of the MotoGP deal between Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC a government touristic development sector) and Dorna included a commitment to construct a custom-made racing circuit. The contract was eventually given to VINCI Construction Grand Projets, the French firm responsible for the Stade de France that hosted the 1998 FIFA World Cup final, and the ‘Bird’s Nest’ Olympic Stadium in Beijing.
Once the Mandalika International Street Circuit and its surrounding infrastructure is complete later this year, it is expected to host various other motorsports events, including the World Superbikes Championship, as well as conferences, congresses and business summits. When not in use, it will be open to the public and the objective is to create an ideal environment for external investment that can boost the island’s economic and international status. Officials estimate that MotoGP Lombok alone can generate around 1 trillion IDR (US$71 million) for the Indonesian economy.
According to government and tourism officials, the Lombok MotoGP world championship race is going to bring not only much-awaited international exposure to the country, but also more opportunities to its people.
As race teams now eye the 2022 calendar, local riders may find themselves with testing opportunities as marques look to align with Indonesia in a bid to increase marketing exposure. Any participation would presumably inspire future generations to chase the same dream, creating a long-lasting impact on the country’s economic well being within the sporting world stage.
“I fully support the MotoGP Lombok event to be held in March 2022,” said Indonesia State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir. “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.”
A March date means the Mandilka Circuit would probably be round two of the 2022 season, after the traditional Qatar opener, although there have also been rumours that Phillip Island might be moved to the start of the year.
Exposure On and Off Track
Indonesia is very much a sporting nation and the No. 1 fan base of MotoGp, so the Lombok Circuit is very much anticipated and will be nationally appreciated.
“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,” said Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta.
Although there are no Indonesian riders in MotoGP this year, 28-year-old Dimas Ekky Pratama from West Java and 23-year-old Andi Farid Izdihar from South Sulawesi both raced in Moto2 last season. While Izdihar will compete in Moto3 this year for Honda Team Asia, Pratama is expected to be the face of the new Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team.
Meanwhile MP1, an Indonesian company operating in events and sports management, has partnered with Gresini Racing through a multiple-year partnership agreement that covers all four categories: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3, and MotoE. More tie-ups are expected.
The Mandalika International Street Circuit may not be a true street circuit in the sense of Monaco or Singapore, but the permanent design does incorporate public roads. ITDC, the company responsible for the venue and its surroundings, believe the 4.32 km Mandalika Circuit track will be one of the fastest in the championship.
It is expected to cater to 150,000 spectators and with a 10-year contract promising to broadcast Lombok into 428 million homes across 200 countries, thus providing ontinual exposure of the island is guaranteed for at least the next decade.
Lombok: Indonesia’s Hidden Treasure
Located easily just a half-hour from Bali, Lombok is far less developed and thus offers a more tranquil escape. Though the past few years it has seen visitor numbers increase considerably, with the tourism market focused more on sustainable, responsible travel unlike other popular tourist spots in Asia.
The island’s clear blue waters are filled with a wide range of marine life, including giant turtles, stingrays and colourful schools of tropical fish, whilst being home to Desert Point, one of the best surf spots in all of Asia.
Mandalika is thus designed as an ecotourism destination. The entire US$3bn project is spread across 1,175 hectares and includes 16km of coastline, condotels, beach clubs, shopping malls, leisure facilities, a golf course, and various other commercial entities.
The circuit itself minimises its carbon footprint by incorporating public roads into the design and using clean energy to sustain the majority of support facilities. Likewise, solar power, a water desalination plant, and a promise to retain 51 percent of the area as open green space are all part of the plan to protect the region’s natural beauty and enhance local culture.
With construction well underway, the Mandalika Beach Club set to open its doors very soon to support the inaugural racing circuit weekend, with this exciting and ambitious project undoubtedly increasing tourism on the island. Glamour and adventure are a winning partnership – with something for everyone now on offer – as well as the island being a photographer’s dream.
The idea of Lombok eclipsing Bali as Indonesia’s top tourist attraction is not yet on the agenda, but merely joining its neighbouring island at the top table of Asian holiday destinations will be a massive success.