Everyone talks about the tires that are different than the ones used in the tests and the new asphalt, but Mandalika also reserves other surprises that the riders have to worry about. The scorching heat is perhaps the worst, and Aleix Espargarò talked about the problem. He’s one of the most fit riders in the paddock, and loves cycling.
“Today, I talked to my engineer, and I told him that we have to do our best to keep the bike cool,” he kind of joked about it. “The engine is small and has lots of horsepower. It won’t be easy for it to breathe. It’s hot today. It’s 65°C on the asphalt.”
If the bikes suffer, the riders do to.
“My suit is black, ideal for these conditions,” Aprilia’s Spanish rider continued. “I’m not worried, physically. I couldn’t have trained better but, when it’s 43°C., that means that we’re at the limit.”
It’s certainly a double challenge!
“In Qatar, I could have done a hundred laps in a row, but it’ll be different here in Indonesia,” he continued. “I like this challenge, because I like to take my body to the limit as an athlete, but we’ve never faced conditions like these. I remember the heat of Jerez in 2020, or the races in Thailand, but it’s worse here. Anyway, we’re athletes, and we have to prove it. You can’t stand still in the garage. You have to ride to prepare for the race. It may not be the best place for a race simulation in the FP4, but we’ll have to manage the situation.”
If anything, Espargarò is a bit worried about the stiffer tires.
“I’m a little worried because I don’t know how the bike will react with those tires,” he explained. “We used them once in Thailand, and it didn’t go well. I remember that they were sliding into fifth gear on the straight. The asphalt is also different. I was fast in the tests, but many things have changed.”