Descriptions of Indonesia’s Mandalika MotoGP and World Superbike-hosting track as a ‘street circuit’ is probably somewhat misleading; rather, this is a purpose-built race track that incorporates some existing public roads and is then handed over for normal traffic usage when not used for racing.
Nevertheless, the track is something of a unique proposition, set on the tourist destination island of Lombok and in a hugely important market for motorcycle manufacturers. The whole project is also important to the local government, which is looking to boost interest in the area and help it recover from the series of earthquakes experienced by the island in 2018.
The project was given a boost in late 2018 when Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpaleta visited Mandalika to meet with the project’s backers. Indonesia has been pushing for a MotoGP race for some time, with initial plans to upgrade Sentul Circuit foundering, before competing plans for a new permanent circuit designed by Hermann Tilke emerged. Located in Palembang, South Sumatra, this would have benefited from infrastructure development tied in with the 2018 Asian Games but the plans were subsequently cancelled.
Instead it was Mandalika which found favour and an announcement was made in early 2019 that it would host not only MotoGP but also the World Superbike Championships from 2021 onwards in a five-year deal.
MRK1 Consulting, along with RoadGrip Motorsport, was appointed by the Indonesian Tourism Development Corporation (IDTC) to plan, implement and also run the new circuit.
“We are very conscious that when we announced this project there was a reasonable amount of scepticism about the concept of a street circuit,” Mark Hughes of MRK1 Consulting said during a presentation of the project. “We have to make very clear that the track has been designed and built to the appropriate FIM safety standards for MotoGP.”
The design of the circuit, feauring a 4.32-kilometre layout with 17 corners, was approved by FIM Safety Officer Franco Uncini and while largely a ground-up design, has been influenced by some of the tourist resort’s existing masterplan.
“The master plan for the resort was actually finished before we got involved. And then between Roadgrip, MRK1 and ITDC we’ve tweaked that track design,” Hughes said.
“We knew we couldn’t go in and entirely change it, there had already been too much invested in that, and with the support of Dorna and also the FIM we then made some small changes to accommodate the safety requirements for a Grade A license.”
A large percentage of the infrastructure used for the circuit is removable, to allow it turn back into a road network for the resort for the rest of the year. The pit building which will double up as a conference and exhibition centre so it will have use outside of the race events. Other temporary facilities will include some of the grandstands, which in total will seat 50,000, though double that are expected to attend, so high is the local interest in bike racing.
In developing Mandalika’s street circuit complex, ITDC collaborated with France’s Vinci Construction Grand Projects, which also was the main investor for the project. The US$1-billion deal with Vinci was signed in August 2018 and foresees 15 years of development.
Aside from the circuit itself, Vinci plans to build supporting facilities including a shopping mall to a hospital and apartment buildings on 131 hectares of land within the special economic zone.
Eleven hotels, with around 1,900 rooms, are eventually planned adjacent to the track though neighbouring Bali is expected to provide the bulk of the accommodation. Lombok’s airport is set to upgraded with longer runway, while there will also be a terminal for ferries and high speed boats, that will bring people from Bali to Lombok.
Groundbreaking began in October 2019, with the development of the foundation and underground utilities system as well as roads by IDTC, before Vinci came on board to complete the racing circuit and associated facilities.
While the coronavirus pandemic slowed efforts and the original 2020 completion date spilled over into 2021, the circuit’s inaugural event became the World Superbike round in November 2021.
The Mandlika Circuit is located in the Mandalika Special Economic Zone on Lombok Island, Indonesia.
From Singapore and Malaysia, you can take a direct flight to Lombok International Airport, which is located not too far from Mandalika. Flights are also available from various major cities in Indonesia such as Jakarta, Surabaya, and Bali. From Jakarta, the flight will take about 2 hours, while from the nearby Bali, it will only take about 30 minutes.
From Bali, you can also take a ferry from Padang Bai Harbor to Lembar Harbor in Lombok. From there you can take a bus or a taxi to Mandalika that will take about 2-3 hours.
So, are you interested to see some live-action moto-races in a relatively close area from Bali? We know we are. See you there, and in the mean time, stay safe and stay healthy.