Returning to Indonesia after an absence of over two decades, the 2022 MotoGP round in Mandalika, Indonesia, was full of drama, fire and rain. At the end of the rain-shortened MotoGP, Miguel Oliviera of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing stood on the top step to win the inaugural Pertamina Grand Prix of Indonesia.
Oliviera was followed into second by Fabio Quartararo of Monster Energy Yamaha while fellow Frenchman Johann Zarco of Pramac Ducati came in third in what proved to be a very wet MotoGP race. Race distance for the Moto2 and MotoGP races at Mandalika were shortened due to the impending rain, and just before the start of MotoGP, the rain bucketed down, causing a one hour delay.
This caused the Mandalika circuit management to bring out the pawang, performing a ceremony in pit lane to drive the crowds away, fascinating the MotoGP crews. Eventually, with rain letting up but track conditions wet with some water ponding, racing started with Oliviera getting the holeshot and leading the pack all the way to the finish.
Quartararo, who started from pole, was soon pushed back by the like of Jack Miller of Ducati Lenovo and Jorge Martin of Pramac Ducati. However, the wet conditions, turning the white paint at the edges of the tarmac slippery, sound claimed Martin, with several other riders having wobbly moments of their own.
Soon after mid-distance of the 20-lap race, Quartararo found his stride and charged through the pack aggressively, pipping Zarco to second position. With Zarco in third, a disappointed Miller had to settle for fourth while the Suzukis of Aleix Rins – whose race bike caught fire during free practice – and Joan Mir, despite showing strongly at the start, had to settle for fifth and sixth respectively.
Mir, who started the race in 18th position, did well to fight seventh place finisher Franco Morbidelli who suffered a three-lap penalty for “irresponsible riding” during a practice start in Friday’s free practice. Brad Binder of Red Bull KTM Factory, brother of Darryn, finished eighth ahead of Aprilia Racing’s Alex Espargaro.
Surprise of the day was rookie Darryn Binder of WithU RNF Racing (the former Petronas Sepang Racing Team) who rounded the top 10, giving Datuk Razlan Razali’s nascent team its best showing so far this year. Marc Marquez of Repsol Honda Racing who returned to competition after two injury hit seasons, did not start the race of suffering a massive high side during qualifying on his Honda RC213-V.
World championship standings after two races has Enea Bastianini of Gresini Ducati Racing on top with 30 points, followed by Brad Binder of Red Bull KTM in second with 28 points and Quartararo with 27. This season has yet to see any single rider stamp their authority on race proceedings, with a mere 10 point spread separating the top nine riders.