MotoGP: Pol Espargaro Sets Pace On Day One Of Mandalika Test

MotoGP: Pol Espargaro Sets Pace On Day One Of Mandalika Test

© 2022, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By David Swarts.





More, from a press release issued by Dorna:

#MandalikaTest: Pol Espargaro fronts six-way factory fight on Day 1

Honda top after a day of changing and challenging conditions as MotoGP™ takes on Mandalika for the first time

Friday, 11 February 2022

Repsol Honda Team’s Pol Espargaro finished Day 1 of the Official MotoGP™ Mandalika Test on top, with the field’s first touch with the new Pertamina Mandalika Circuit heavily affected by rain and tricky track conditions. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) was second quickest to make it an Espargaro 1-2, with Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) slotting into third as the top six saw every factory represented.

Due to track conditions, the red flags were brought out during the morning to get a clean up operation underway. Heavy overnight rain had caused the circuit to become dirty, but as the day went on, the track got quicker until we eventually saw three riders dip into the 1:32s. The riders were able to get some decent running under their belts in the closing stages, but light rain then started falling heading into the final half an hour, so any late time improvements weren’t possible.


Due to the riders and teams having to learn the new Pertamina Mandalika Circuit, there wasn’t too much to talk about in terms of new updates on the bikes. After briefly running a 2021 RC213V at the Sepang Test, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) – unsurprisingly – was solely lapping on HRC’s 2022 spec machine.

Pacesetter Pol Espargaro completed 69 laps, setting his best right at the end of his run, as the Spaniard finished 0.9 clear of the next quickest Honda. That was 11th place Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) who was one of a few riders who crashed at Turn 10 on the opening day. The Japanese rider was on a personal best lap when he went down uninjured, but that signalled the end of his day.

Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) and Marc Marquez were 1.2s and 1.3s off Pol Espargaro respectively, both notching just over 60 laps too. The number 93 explained it as a “good day” despite conditions being unpredictable but is remaining calm ahead of two big days of testing coming up.


Aleix Espargaro. Photo courtesy Dorna.
Aleix Espargaro. Photo courtesy Dorna.



The Noale factory’s most notable focus has been on chassis direction. Aleix Espargaro and teammate Maverick Viñales had a great time over in Sepang and if the times are anything to go by so far in Mandalika, the RS-GP continues to look in very good shape.

Espargaro was second and 0.4s behind his brother on the timesheets, completing 60 laps, with Viñales seventh quickest with a 1:33.147. Top Gun put in 56 more laps on board his new bike and was one of the first to bolt to the top with a couple of hours left on the clock.


Brad Binder (33). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Brad Binder (33). Photo courtesy Dorna.



Brad Binder shot to the sharp end late in the day, and after having been penultimate on the timesheets earlier on. The South African ended the first day in third, just 0.006 off Aleix Espargaro, and was the last rider into the 1:32s. Teammate Miguel Oliveira’s best lap was a 1:33:748, slotting him in just ahead of eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez. Binder did 64 laps and Oliveira 77 on Day 1.

Raul Fernandez (Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing) was the first back out after the Red Flag, the rookie intent on using as much track time as possible, and he put in a best of 1:33.966. With difficult conditions; changing, wet and interrupted, the uphill challenge was even more so for the debutants. 2021 Moto2™ Champion Remy Gardner (Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing) was P24 as he continues to push through the pain barrier.


Alex Rins. Photo courtesy Dorna.
Alex Rins. Photo courtesy Dorna.



The good vibes seemed to continue despite the challenges of taking on a brand new venue, with both Alex Rins and his Team Suzuki Ecstar teammate, 2020 MotoGP™ Champion Joan Mir, in the mix at the front again. Rins was fourth, just under six tenths off the top, and the Spaniard put in 72 laps. Mir was eighth with a deficit of 0.778 to the top, and he put in 58 laps.

Mir’s crew chief Frankie Carchedi joined MotoGP™’s Simon Crafar and Jack Appleyard half way through the day on YouTube, and repeated what Team Suzuki Ecstar Project Leader Shinichi Sahara had said in Sepang: “significant improvements” have been made for the Hamamatsu factory.


Fabio Quartararo (20). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Fabio Quartararo (20). Photo courtesy Dorna.



Reigning World Champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was the fastest YZR-M1 rider on the opening day, as the Frenchman claimed P5 on the timesheets. A hefty 86 laps came in from Quartararo, the second most of anyone. His teammate Franco Morbidelli did 75 and finished P12, the Italian getting some important time on the 2022 bike.

Important time on the 2022 bike is exactly what Andrea Dovizioso (WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP™ Team) needs too, and the Italian got just that on Day 1. 57 laps was the number Dovi clocked, with his best coming in at a 1:33.245 – placing the number 04 in ninth. Rookie Darryn Binder (WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP™ Team) slashed plenty off his quickest time when the conditions became more favourable, the South African finished two seconds down on P1 having got a handy 58 more laps of experience in the bag.


Jack Miller. Photo courtesy Dorna.
Jack Miller. Photo courtesy Dorna.



It was Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) who led the Bologna charge on Day 1, the Australian ending the day in sixth but just 0.006 off Quartararo. After Viñales had made the first push to the top in the latter stages, Miller responded to take over for a while before getting leapfrogged and pushed back down the order. The only other Ducati in the top ten was Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) as the sophomore took P10 despite a tumble.

Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) was P13 but stole some headlines with a whopping haul of 96 laps – only one other rider did more than 80, and that was reigning Champion Quartararo. Within a tenth of Zarco came the first rookie, once again on a Ducati as it was by the end of play in Sepang, but this time it was Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) – despite a crash, it was an impressive day’s work after the Italian missed two full days of track time at the Shakedown due to illness.

Sepang’s fastest rookie, Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), was P21 on Day 1 at Mandalika and suffered a couple of crashes, nevertheless ending the session 0.008 behind teammate Luca Marini.

Two riders seemingly very out of position after a challenging first touch with the stunning new venue are Sepang’s record breaker Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™), who was P18, and Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) down in P22, suffering a crash and the last non-rookie – so we can expect much more from Pecco as the test goes on.

That’s a wrap on Day 1 of MotoGP™’s debut at Pertamina Mandalika Circuit. Two more days of action remain in Indonesia, with eyes on the sky to see what the conditions bring. Stay up to date on on and across social media as we get our teeth into the #MandalikaTest.




More, from a press release issued by WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team:

WITHU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team covers first laps in Indonesia

Andrea Dovizioso and Darryn Binder discovered the Mandalika Circuit aboard their Yamaha YZR-M1 for the first time today.

Hot and humid conditions accompanied the MotoGP paddock on their way from Malaysia to Indonesia. After riders and teams had a few days to get used to conditions, to check out the brand-new Mandalika Circuit and set up the garages, the action on the 4.3-kilometer circuit got underway today.

Although proceedings have been slightly delayed due to a rain shower in the morning, and a dirty track surface didn’t facilitate the riders’ first taste of the newly added track, the WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team pair was out shortly after midday to discover the layout, lines and braking points on their YZR-M1 machines.

With more and more rubber on the asphalt, track conditions improved slightly and Andrea Dovizioso did a total of 57 laps on day one and concluded Friday in 9th position with a fastest lap of 1:33.245 minutes.

Meanwhile MotoGP rookie Darryn Binder approached the opening day cautiously, still having to get used to the big bike and the track at the same time. He found himself 1.25 seconds behind his teammate after 58 laps today. Both will have two more days to prepare themselves for the season and the second round of 2022, the first ever Indonesian Grand Prix in March.


“I’m happy about the way these three days started, because I was able to find a good line today in a very strange situation as the grip was very low. At the end, we could improve the braking, which is very important for me and very important in general for my riding style. So, I’m delighted about that. I was able to be consistent. For sure the track will change and this is not the reality in terms of lap time, because I’m convinced everybody will go faster. But for today, I’m happy.”


“Today has probably been the most difficult day of my MotoGP career so far. Arriving here, I’m still trying to learn the bike. I had to learn a new track and in the worst conditions possible. So, I really struggled at the beginning of the day. Luckily, towards the end of the day, the track was improving, which was a good thing and I was able to make a step right at the end, which I’m at least a little bit happier to end the day a little bit closer to the front. The difficult thing was, there was only a little line around the track, that was really good, so if you made any mistakes, it ruined the lap completely. Anyway, let’s see what the weather does. Hopefully the track improves again tomorrow and we can keep working and learning.”




More, from a press release issued by Tech3 KTM Factory Racing:

Fernandez and Gardner Both Conclude Tricky Day 1 of New Indonesian Adventure on a Positive Note

For the first time ever, Tech3 KTM Factory Racing was traveling to the beautiful island of Lombok in Indonesia for the first Official MotoGP Mandalika Test set to take place from February 11 to 13, with the aim to try the brand-new track of Mandalika circuit ahead of the Pertamina Grand Prix of Indonesia on March 20, 2022. The entire MotoGP class was trying out this new layout of 4.3km on Day 1, with six left corners and ten right corners, located in the south of the island, by the ocean.

With a scheduled start at 9:00 local time, the red flags were shown shortly after the first few laps due to track conditions. With a very heavy rain that had occurred a few hours before the start of the day, there was a lot of mud on the track, meaning that a clean up operation got underway and stopped the action until lunch time. Before 15:00 local time, the riders were told to complete around twenty laps each to see how the track conditions were evolving. Luckily, the track dried out and conditions improved quickly, meaning that the work could continue for the rest of the day.

Raul Fernandez was the first rider to leave the pit box after the red flag, eager to get the work going. At 13:30, he was in the Top 10, 1.604 seconds from the top. The Spaniard progressively improved as he started to understand better this brand-new layout of Pertamina Mandalika Circuit Indonesia. On lap 35, he registered 1’34.983, and later on progressed to 1’33.966 on his fifty-third lap, before calling it a day after fifty-seven laps completed. The rookie finished the day in P19, 1.500 seconds from the top and will look forward to continuing his progress here on Day 2.

It was a similar day for his teammate Remy Gardner who also jumped back on his KTM RC16 after some well deserved rest following an intensive week of testing in Sepang. The aim of the day was to do laps in order to learn the track as much as possible and get used to all its technicalities. On lap 30, the Australian crossed the line in 1’35.634. Eighteen laps later, we saw an encouraging improvement as he gained one second, with his best lap of the day in 1’34.603. Overall, Remy completed 64 laps despite his wrist continuing to hurt him, and will get some rest before the action returns tomorrow.

Raul Fernandez

Position: 19th

Time: 1’33.966 

Laps: 57

“We did a good job today. The track is completely new, and I am still in the process of learning about the bike, the tyres and everything else. It was a positive day for me because I was very fast and I had a good feeling on the bike which is the most important to me. This morning, the track was very dirty so we didn’t ride too much, but I remain calm because we have two more days to work on this new layout.”

Remy Gardner

Position: 24th

Time: 1’34.603

Laps: 64

“The layout is quite fun, I enjoy it because you are on the gas a lot and there are some fast corners. However, the track was very dirty. At one point, I thought that we would not be able to ride at all. We got the red flag to allow the track to be cleaned, and when we all went out again to do twenty laps each, the track started to get better and times started to come down. My wrist continues to hurt me as we get more days on the bike, but I will get some rest tonight and hopefully I will feel better tomorrow.”




More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki ECSTAR:


Alex Rins: 4th – 1’33.058 (+ 0.592)

Joan Mir: 8th – 1’33.244 (+ 0.778)

Team Suzuki Ecstar’s riders were raring to go in Indonesia, ready to try the Pertamina Mandalika circuit for the first time. In fact, Alex Rins was the first rider in the field to put in a lap. The morning started off wet, but later in the day the main issue was dust and dirt on the track; due to this there was a long stoppage to allow for circuit cleaning.

Initially the focus was on learning the layout, this was important for the riders – who were trying to get to grips with the racing line – and the crew as they worked to establish the gearing and base settings.

Once this was done, both Rins and Joan Mir aimed to switch their attention to continuing the test plan they were unable to complete in Sepang last week, although this proved difficult with mud and stones still on the surface.

Rins reported great feelings with the track despite the conditions, as he put in 72 laps. His best time was just half a second from the top.

Mir was also impressed with the layout and he was happier when the track was cleaner. He did a total of 58 laps.

The team will remain at the track for another two days of testing.

Alex Rins:

“I really like Mandalika circuit, it’s nice and the layout is unbelievable. Today it was a little bit dirty, so we had to be careful, but lap by lap there was more grip. Overall I’m happy with this first day, we took time to learn how the circuit is, and because of that we didn’t try many things. We want to continue working on some areas that we couldn’t manage in Sepang, let’s see what we can achieve tomorrow.”

Joan Mir:

“I enjoyed today, it was nice to learn the layout but the conditions weren’t the best. In the end there was a grippy racing line, but it took a while to get to that point. The circuit has a good mix of fast places, hard braking, and flowing sections and I like it. Today we didn’t manage to test much, but I was getting quicker as the day went on and hopefully tomorrow we can work on set-up a bit more.”

Ken Kawauchi – Technical Manager:

“The beginning of the test was difficult, not just for us but for everybody, the riders were struggling to get grip in these conditions. The track started out wet, which wasn’t ideal but it was manageable, especially as it dried. But after that we had issues with the dirt. Towards the end of the day we did manage to try a few items, but tomorrow and Sunday we will work a lot more to prepare for the season opener.”




More, from a press release issued by Monster Energy Yamaha:


Lombok (Indonesia), 11 February 2022



The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team have been looking forward to this day for months. Today, Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli got their first laps in at Indonesia’s new Mandalika circuit and secured 5th and 12th place respectively in the Day 1 results.

5th FABIO QUARTARARO 1’33.108 / 86 LAPS

12th FRANCO MORBIDELLI 1’33.518 / 75 LAPS

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli resumed their 2022 MotoGP pre-season testing programme today. The teammates used the first of the three riding days in Indonesia to get a feel for the new Mandalika circuit and confirm their findings from last week‘s Sepang Test. They took 5th and 12th place respectively in today‘s time sheets.

Originally, testing at the Mandalika track was supposed to take place from 09:00 to 17:00 local track time every day, but due to overnight rain Day 1 was off to a wet and muddy start. The session was red flagged and later extended until 17:45 to compensate for the lost time during the clean-up in the morning.

Quartararo used his first laps to gauge the flow of the circuit, before it was hammer time in the afternoon. By 15:00 local time, he was topping the standings, with a 1‘34.074s. He ultimately finished the first day of testing in fifth place with a 1‘33.108s, set on used tyres on lap 85/86, that put him 0.642s from first.

Morbidelli was quick to head out to get a first feel for the track. Though he was mainly concerned with building on his findings from the previous testing days in Malaysia in the afternoon, he steadily improved his feeling with the bike in the final hours on track. His fastest lap, a 1‘33.518s, set on lap 67/75, put him in 12th place, 1.052s from the top.



To be honest, I‘m really happy because this morning was really tricky. The conditions were kind of like motocross. In the afternoon I felt much better, our pace was super strong. I set my fastest lap with 16 laps on the medium rear tyre, so I‘m super happy actually. And we still have two more days. We tried the aero package and rear settings again, and it was working well, so I am happy, but most of all about my pace with used tyres. I think this circuit is kind of like Qatar and Thailand, with a little bit of Argentina on the last heavy braking. I think it‘s a nice mixture of corners. I don‘t consider any track a ’Yamaha track‘, because I think that‘s a mistake. I see this as a normal circuit, and I give it my best shot, this is the best mentality.


It was a good day today. We improved the feeling much more compared to Sepang. It showed that I‘m getting more and more in tune with my new Crew Chief Patrick. He did a great job today; we improved the bike a lot and I feel much better. Now, we keep working to understand a few more things and improve the feeling with the bike even more, but so far, so good. For sure, the track is new, and there are spots on the track that aren‘t so good, like Sector 2. I lose everything there because it looks like today I didn‘t manage to get it right, but finally I feel good with the medium tyres. We tried the soft tyres at the end, the speed was good with both. We also tried the medium front, and I felt also quite okay with that, so we are spreading our performance on different tyres and with different things, so I would say that it was a good day.




More, from a press release issued by Mooney VR46 Racing Team:


The last official MotoGP test starts in Indonesia with Luca Marini in P20 and Marco Bezzecchi in P21

Lombok (Indonesia), February 11th 2022 – First approach to the Mandalika International Street Circuit for the MotoGP circus with Luca Marini and Marco Bezzecchi working on the Ducati Desmosedici GPs of the Mooney VR46 Racing Team and respectively in P20 and P21 in the combined standings.

A demanding Day1, characterised by heavy rain that hit the circuit area at the beginning and at the end of the session and even before that by a long break around 12.00 pm local time to allow the cleaning of the track due to the violent storms of the last night. At work from the early hours of the morning into the garage, but on track from 1.30 pm to make the most of the central hours of the day, Luca Marini completes 53 laps and sets a best lap time of 1.34.165.

Among the first to test the new circuit, with wet tires, Marco Bezzecchi finishes with a good lap time of 1.34.173 (dry track) and 63 laps despite two small crashes.

For both, next appointment on track tomorrow at 9.00 am local time for the second of the three days of official MotoGP tests.

Luca Marini #10

A good first day here in Mandalika: I like the track, it is very fast and with several long corners. At the same time there are a couple of strong braking points, it is definitely a track that in a good situation can be super! A pity for today, the asphalt was very dirty, conditions far from ideal for a first approach to a new circuit. Overall, I can’t complain, we discover a little be more the new Ducati GP22 and tomorrow we will get back at work for another step.

Marco Bezzecchi #72

An uphill day, but a good first impression of the new Mandalika track. The asphalt conditions were far from perfect and we wasted half session trying to clean the track as well as possible. The grip is not bad at all and tomorrow we can do even better. Too bad for the two small crashes, the second one above all because it was my mistake that with more experience I might have been able to avoid. Let’s get back to the data to get even closer.

Pablo Nieto

Team Manager

A more complicated day than we expected: it is not easy to ride on a new track for the first time in these conditions. The asphalt was really dirty and this forced us into the garage for most of the morning. Better in the afternoon, however, we need to consider that the track is not yet fully rubberised, but the track seems really fast and I think the lap times will drop soon. Luca continued to adapt to the new bike, even Marco who unfortunately crashed twice. Tomorrow we will get back to work on the set up.




More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

Repsol Honda Team get first taste of Mandalika as Espargaro sets the pace

Pol Espargaro led the first day of MotoGP testing in Indonesia, utilizing all the available track time across a day of stops and starts as team-mate Marc Marquez enjoyed the first special feeling with the new Honda.

It was a wet introduction to the newest circuit on the MotoGP World Championship calendar, heavy overnight rain and continued morning showers leaving the 4.3kilometer-long tack wet for the opening salvo of laps. Both Repsol Honda Team riders were some of the first out on track, completing a handful of laps before the red flag came out. This was to allow the Mandalika circuit to be cleaned and a revised schedule was announced as the track went green just after midday local time.

Stable conditions allowed for plenty of laps in the afternoon, the entire MotoGP grid working to put rubber down and improve on-track conditions. Pol Espargaro took a measured approach to the opening day in Indonesia, building his speed over a number of laps as the weather and circuit condition evolved. As the closing hours approached, Espargaro’s effort were rewarded as he climbed up the time sheets, first inside the top three. On his penultimate lap with just over half an hour of testing remaining, the #44 set a 1’32.466 to lead the first ever MotoGP session at Mandalika.

Marc Marquez spent much of the early afternoon in and around the top three as riders began to assess the new circuit at full speed with a dry track. Mixed weather in the closing hour of testing saw Marquez and his team wrap up ahead of schedule after completing 64 laps during the course of the day. 17th on the time sheet, Marquez was not worried by his position as he focused on cleaning the track with a high volume of laps and improving his overall feeling with the new Honda RC213V.

Overnight weather is once again looking mixed as the paddock hope the rain stays away so they can pick up on Saturday where they left off today. Just two days of testing now remain before the start of the 2022 MotoGP World Championship.

Pol Espargaro

1ST  1’32.466

“It was a bit of a tricky start to the day in the morning, the track was dirty but the track improved as we continued to ride on it and cleaned the track. As the day went on, we could ride in a better way and start to learn more about the track and also our bike, which is still quite new. Finally, I did a good lap and overall my rhythm was good, but it’s just the first day and tomorrow everyone will go a bit faster. The bike keeps improving and we are just at the start of our journey but it’s promising. Now it’s time to rest tonight and get back to work tomorrow.”

Marc Marquez

17TH  1’33.776

“A normal day at a new circuit; it started dirty and it improved as the day went on. I didn’t find it difficult to find the good lines because it was easy to see where the black rubber was. I like the first and the fourth sector and it’s an interesting circuit, it will be nice to race at. We did a lot of laps today because this was the only way to clean the track and it helped. Already the line is improving and I think tomorrow it will improve more so we can be more consistent. I started to feel something special with the bike today, let’s see what tomorrow brings.”




More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Idemitsu:


11 February 2022 | Mandalika Test Day 1

The second and final MotoGP pre-season test got underway in Indonesia on Friday morning. The first-ever action at the new Mandalika circuit in Lombok took place in mixed and dirty conditions, complicating matters for the premier class riders, with LCR Honda IDEMITSU rider Taka Nakagami finishing the day just outside the top 10.

After riders initially went out on a wet surface, the session was red-flagged to allow the track to be cleaned before proceedings resumed around midday. Taka continued his adaptation to the 2022 RC213v prototype at the new venue and completed a total of 52 laps as his times improved throughout the day. The Japanese star is now hopeful of improving on his 11th position in Saturday’s session.

Takaaki Nakagami – 11th


“Today was a little tough because the condition from the morning session was wet and then we had to wait for it to dry. There wasn’t much rubber on the track and a lot of dust, so the grip level was really difficult. Then in the afternoon the times got better as there were more bikes on the track and, lap by lap, I built confidence and my times got better. At the end of the day I made a mistake and had a crash at turn 10 around 5pm, so sorry to my team for that. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and improving my lap time.”




More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Castrol:


11 February 2022 | Mandalika Test Day 1

Álex Márquez and the rest of the MotoGP class got their first taste of the new Mandalika circuit in Indonesia as the final pre-season test started on Friday. The LCR Honda CASTROL rider endured a tough introduction to the venue with wet conditions and a dirty track making life difficult, but was still able to make solid headway on the first of three days in Lombok.

The session got underway in wet conditions, but was then halted to allow for the track to be cleaned with dust and debris making grip hard to achieve. Álex again opted to focus his attention on set-up and race pace and was able to get through 62 laps in total. Although he finished the day in 15th on the timesheets, he was again happy with the rhythm and feeling he generated on his new 2022 machinery.

Álex Márquez – 15th


“Ok, so first day here in Mandalika. It was a really strange morning, it was difficult on the track and difficult to understand things, but then the track became cleaner and we were able to make some steps with our rhythm in the afternoon and we completed 62 laps in the dry which was important to give us some reference points. I’m really happy about the rhythm and bike performance and also how the team are working. We needed to put on a soft at the end, but we were more focused on race pace doing a good job there. I’m looking forward to tomorrow, making more steps and being closer, but I’m sure we can be competitive at this track.”

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