After a long wait of twenty five years, the Indonesian Grand Prix returns to the newly-constructed Mandalika Street Circuit, and it is Miguel Oliveira who took the honors after a dominant display in tricky conditions, taking his fourth career victory in the premier category.
Polesitter Fabio Quartararo struggled at the start of the race, launching off slowly while Oliveira and Jack Miller rocketed into the top three by the first turn, with Quartararo immediately struggling to find pace and lost places to Oliveira and Miller. The two battled for several laps before Oliveira eventually retook the lead and slowly pulled away. Quartararo struggled more, dropping down to 5th behind Johann Zarco and Alex Rins who began chasing Miller down for 2nd.
Front row starter Jorge Martin struggled to find pace once again, where he sat behind Franco Morbidelli in 7th. A notable moment came when he saved a highside in the final corner, where he lost the rear without warning as he accelerated on the white line. It was the same spot where Pol Espargaro also saved a highside in similar fashion a few laps later. Martin remained on 8th for a few more laps before crashing out of the first turn, hitting a wet patch and losing the front under braking, crashing shortly after fellow Ducati rider Francesco Bagnaia saved a front end washout in the same spot.
With the top seven already seconds ahead, the rest of the midfield pack started battling for 8th, where a big pack of around ten riders frequently swapped places with one another throughout the race. The battle intensified even more when Darryn Binder impressively emerged as the fastest rider outside the top six, rapidly gaining places lap by lap as he went from 16th to 8th.
The battle for 2nd was also hotting up as Miller began to struggle more, as well as Rins losing 3rd to the charging Zarco. The Spaniard eventually made a tiny error which cost him another spot to Quartararo, who was also picking up the pace. The Ducati duel between Miller and Zarco eventually allowed Quartararo to reel into them quicker, with the latter eventually passing Zarco. Miller’s struggles later became too much to handle as he would eventually end up behind the two Frenchmen and outside the podium positions.
The midfielders meanwhile found themselves in a Moto3 style battle, as Darryn Binder began to experience tyre wear and started holding off the riders behind him. He swapped places with Enea Bastianini several times within the same lap, a battle so hard that Aleix Espargaro got close enough for a successful divebomb on Bastianini where many spectators thought he would cause a crash. Brad Binder eventually made a pass on the Italian, and later would pull an aggressive overtake on his own brother and Aleix to take 8th place.
Despite the Frenchmen’s best efforts to close into the lead, Oliveira’s early dominance was too much to overcome as he took the chequered flag 2 seconds ahead of Quartararo, with Zarco completing the podium a second later. Miller brought his Ducati home to 4th, with the two Suzukis of Rins and Mir finishing behind him, the Japanese factory still seeks their first podium of the season after a promising pre-season form. Franco Morbidelli finished a lonely 7th, nearly 12 seconds behind Mir and over 10 seconds ahead of the big midfield pack.
Brad Binder managed to win the battle for 8th ahead of Aleix Espargaro and Darryn Binder, the latter scoring his maiden MotoGP points after an impressive display. The remaining points scorers from the pack were Bastianini, Pol Espargaro, Alex Marquez, Luca Marini, and Pecco Bagnaia, finishing 11th to 15th respectively. Maverick Viñales finished just outside the points, followed by Raul Fernandez and Fabio DiGiannantonio after a brief run in the points early in the race. Taka Nakagami finished as the last Honda in 19th, ending a nightmare weekend which saw him start from last. Marco Bezzecchi and Remy Gardner were the last finishers, the former also briefly running in the points before a mistake dropped him down the field.
Aside from Jorge Martin crashing out, Andrea Dovizioso was the only other retirement, while Marc Marquez was forced to sit out of the race following a big highside in this morning’s warm-up session, where he suffered a concussion.
Enea Bastianini maintains the championship lead with 30 points, two ahead of Brad Binder and three ahead of Quartararo. Oliveira’s victory puts him into fourth with 25 points, one ahead of Zarco in fifth. A mere six points cover the top five, and the first two round have already shown how much of an incredibly exciting season we’re in for, as we look forward into the next race at Argentina.