Repsol Honda go to Indonesia looking to defend undefeated record

Indonesia will host its first motorcycle Grand Prix race since 1997 this weekend, and Repsol Honda will arrive to defend their unbeaten record in the country.

Pol Espargaro, Marc Marquez, Qatar 2022.

HONDA won both motorcycle Grands Prix held at the old venue for the Indonesian Grand Prix, Sentul. The first Grand Prix held there was the 125cc race in 1996, which was also the debut of Valentino Rossi. Mick Doohan won the 500cc Grand Prix a few hours after Rossi’s maiden GP, and the next year Tadayuki Okada won, again for Repsol Honda, before Grand Prix racing left Indonesia behind. 

The passion Indonesia had for motorcycle racing never went away, though, as evidenced by almost annual preseason visits to the country by some of the Japanese factories in the years before Covid prevented such things. 

Now, after hosting the title-deciding WorldSBK finale last year, and a somewhat problematic MotoGP test last month, Indonesia’s Pertamina Mandalika circuit is ready to host its first Grand Prix. 

The riders arriving to defend Repsol Honda’s record in Indonesia this weekend will, of course, be eight-times Grand Prix champion Marc Marquez and 2022 Qatar Grand Prix podium finisher Pol Espargaro. 

Espargaro topped the final day of the test in Mandalika last month, while Fabio Quartararo commented afterwards that he was concerned by the pace of all four Hondas. Of course, the surface will have changed for the Grand Prix due to the issues faced at the test, but Honda must arrive in Indonesia confident of a good weekend ahead.

In anticipation of this weekend’s Grand Prix, Pol Espargaro said, “I am really looking forward to Mandalika, [...] We’re coming in a really good moment, a strong race in Qatar and a good test before in Mandalika, but a lot has changed since then.”

Espargaro continued, “They’ve resurfaced the track which should be a big help, but we have to see what it’s like when we arrive.”

Espargaro’s teammate, Marc Marquez, said, “We made improvements over the weekend in Qatar and it’s clear to see there is a lot of potential there.” He added, “Another weekend presents another chance to understand the bike more and get closer again to fighting at the front.”