Who were the winners and losers of the 2022 Indonesian MotoGP?

After a dramatic and unpredictable Indonesian GP, we give you our winners and losers from the second round of the 2022 MotoGP World Championship.

Indonesia MotoGP podium 2022.

THE 2022 Indonesian Grand Prix was chaotic from beginning to end, with rain delays, updates of delays, updates of updates, updates of updates of delays and even a rain master. But who can leave Mandalika knowing that they could have done little more? And who will head to Argentina wondering what went wrong at round two of the MotoGP World Championship?

Winner - KTM

The most obvious winner is the manufacturer of the winning motorcycle: KTM. 

Firstly, they won the race, therefore they are automatically winners. More importantly, they had both bikes in Q2, Brad Binder start from fourth, and proved their competitiveness in the wet. 

Miguel Oliveira’s performance was sublime, pouncing on early race leader Jack Miller just as the Australian started to suffer and his pace started to drop. As Johann Zarco and Alex Rins got caught up behind Miller, Oliveira was able to extend his advantage, and even a late charge from reigning MotoGP World Champion Fabio Quartararo was able to be repelled.

It could have been two bikes on the podium for KTM, but Brad Binder’s race was immediately bound by two things: running wide in turn one; and his holeshot device being stuck in the ‘engaged’ position, which is what caused him to run wide in turn one. With that considered, eighth was a rather spectacular result for the South African.

Winner - Fabio Quartararo

Fabio Quartararo is the next ‘winner’. After finishing ninth in Qatar, it was important for the Frenchman to bounce back in his world title defence. The weekend looked promising from the start, with Quartararo showing strong pace throughout, and after Saturday’s FP4 and qualifying sessions he was the favourite should the race be dry. Quartararo’s advantage seemed to grow on Sunday morning, topping the Warm Up session with a 1:32.001 with an eight-lap-old soft tyre.

When the MotoGP race distance was shortened to 20 laps during the Moto2 race, any fears Quartararo may have had about making the soft tyre last the distance would have been quashed, too. However, he would not get the chance to race it. 

The rain that arrived between the Moto2 and MotoGP races postponed the race by around one hour, with the race starting in the wet. Quartararo has generally struggled in the wet, but did make the podium in the flag-to-flag of Le Mans last season. Le Mans, like Mandalika, offers decent grip in the wet due to its relatively recently-laid abrasive surface. However, Mandalika’s climate means that the temperature issues faced in Le Mans are not present at the Indonesian venue. 

Quartararo started slowly, dropping back to fifth at one stage, but came back through the likes of Jack Miller, Alex Rins and Johann Zarco. He then began pressuring Miguel Oliveira, but the Portuguese was able to respond and protect his lead in the closing stages. But Quartararo’s chances of making the most of Marc Marquez’ absence (we’ll get to him later) were assumed to have disappeared when the rain fell. The Frenchman proved that does not have to be the case, although the high grip offered by the Mandalika circuit (Quartararo’s fastest race lap was only a tenth of a second slower than Alessandro Zaccone’s Moto2 qualifying time, and 6.7 seconds slower than his own time-topping warm up lap) means that the #20 might still need to prove it in more ‘regular’ wet conditions.

Winner - Darryn Binder

It is difficult to choose between Enea Bastianini and Darryn Binder for the final ‘winner’ of Indonesia. Bastianini maintained his position atop the riders’ standings despite a difficult start that saw him drop to the fringes of the top 20, while Binder scored six points in his second ever premier class race. 

We’ll go with Binder, because Bastianini won Qatar, and Binder is an unfancied rookie who has been (fairly) criticised for his riding tendencies and (probably less fairly) for his riding ability.

Binder’s race started fairly anonymously but while more experienced riders like Jorge Martin and Francesco Bagnaia made mistakes, Binder did not and soon enough found himself on the back of the battle for ninth, which became the battle for eighth when Luca Marini encountered late tyre issues and dropped to 14th. 

It was very possible that Binder was going to finish eighth, but instead he finished 10th, which it is possible to put down to his inexperience in fighting with some of the world’s best MotoGP riders, his inexperience of racing in the wet on a MotoGP bike, and his inexperience of racing a MotoGP bike in general. 

It would also be possible to say that Binder’s performance should not be a surprise, or should not be impressive, because he is riding  a Yamaha - the most rider-friendly of the MotoGP machines. But he beat Andrea Dovizioso - the winner of four wet MotoGP races - who has more-or-less the same bike as him, but a whole lot more experience. Objectively, it was an impressive ride and while it might not say much about his future prospects in the class, it shows that there is potential in Darryn Binder. Before the start of the season, that was less clear.

Loser - Marc Marquez

The clear ‘loser’ of the Indonesian Grand Prix is Marc Marquez. While Honda’s performance is likely to rebound in Argentina when Michelin bring back the 2022-spec rear tyre construction, the points Marquez lost to his championship rivals are never coming back. Mathematically, this could be crucial in November. 

Marquez has always been a crasher, even back in the Moto2 days. In 2013, his debut year, he crashed over 20 times and every year in MotoGP he figures near the top of the crash charts.

But Marquez’ strength was knowing when to crash. For example, at Barcelonain 2017, Marquez crashed three times, but he finished second behind Andrea Dovizioso in the race. This weekend in Indonesia, however, he crashed at the wrong moment, and in a big way. 
Of course, it was not Marquez’ first high profile Warm Up crash. He went down in 2013 at the British Grand Prix on Sunday morning at turn eight where marshals were recovering Cal Crutchlow’s Tech 3 Yamaha. The damage then was to Marquez’ shoulder, but this time it was to his head. 

Whilst it is positive to see Marquez once more taking risks to find the limit as he was doing throughout the weekend in Mandalika, it is not so positive to see such major consequences of those risks, especially in such an insignificant session. You cannot win the race in Warm Up, but Marquez certainly lost it there on Sunday.

Loser - Ducati's Title Contenders

Fortunately for Marquez, not all of his championship rivals were able to take advantage of his absence. Points leader Enea Bastianini only finished ninth; Brad Binder only eighth; Joan Mir sixth; Jorge Martin crashed and Francesco Bagnaia was 15th.

So, the second ‘loser’ of Indonesia is ‘Ducati’s Title Contenders’. This might seem a snub to Jack Miller, who was fourth, but in a wet Indonesia it can be seen as a disappointment that he missed the podium considering his wet weather credentials. It also might seem like a snub to Johann Zarco, who, with Pramac Racing, took the first podium for Ducati's 2022 bike. But this will be Zarco's sixth season in MotoGP, and he still has not won a race. Until he does it is difficult to see him as a title contender. 

But, for Miller’s teammate, Bagnaia, and his potential replacement in Ducati, Jorge Martin, the race was far more than disappointing.
After Qatar, both needed to bounce back after Bagnaia took himself and Martin out at the first turn while trying to pass the Spaniard. At round two, though, Martin took himself out all by himself, crashing at turn one while fighting with Franco Morbidelli, locking the front wheel over a river. 

Bagnaia made the same error a few laps before Martin, but was able to save it. However, his pace was never strong enough, and after his mistake he was unable to recover, instead slipping back to 15th to score one point. 

So, between Ducati’s two favoured challengers for 2022, they have one point. That is not a great outcome, even if you consider that the likes of Bastianini and Quartararo will go on to have difficult races. Bagnaia and Martin have already had two difficult races, and find themselves over a race win adrift of the championship lead already. 

And, while it might be reasonable to expect the satellite Gresini rider to struggle, and for the rider with the under-powered Yamaha to struggle, the KTMs of Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira have proved themselves to be adaptable to different circuits and even tyres. The Red Bull KTM team is the only one to have had podiums in both of the first two races this year, and Ducati’s main challenger, Bagnaia, is 27 points behind Binder, and 24 behind Oliveira.

Loser - Mandalika Circuit

The third and final ‘loser’ of Indonesia was almost the Indonesian crowd, who at one point was not that far away from waiting 25 years for a Grand Prix, and then having it called off for rain when it finally did return because of European TV times. Fortunately, a rain handler was present to cure the situation. 

Instead of the crowd, then, the final ‘loser’ is the track, because it needs resurfacing again. After the test, the surface was deemed unsafe to race on with riders being pelted by rocks whenever they were behind another rider. The first sector, and the very end of the lap, were then resurfaced to try to cure the problem, but even still the track was breaking up in the races, leading to both the Moto2 and MotoGP races being cut short. Alex Rins posted on social media with a photo showing the pieces of the track that had found their way inside his leathers during the race. The problem is not unresolvable, and now the track has time to do the job properly rather than the four weeks or so between the test and the race. Hopefully they will be able to remedy the situation before WorldSBK show up at the beginning of November.