Go for a lap of the new WorldSBK Mandalika Circuit in Indonesia

The brand-new Mandalika Circuit in Indonesia makes its debut as the 2021 WorldSBK title showdown promising fast racing and a beachside backdrop

Mandalika Circuit in Indonesia

For many years motorsport has been preoccupied with facilities that, while often state-of-the-art, aren’t always in the most picturesque of locations… but that certainly changes with Indonesia’s Mandalika Circuit, which will hold its inaugural WorldSBK Championship race this weekend.

Set on the tropical island of Lombok, just a boat ride away from the tourist hotspot of Bali, the Mandalika Circuit doesn’t just make the most of its stunning island life surroundings, it practically weaves them in with some corners even unfurling onto the beach with the crystalling ocean lapping just beyond the gravel trap.

It’s a stunning location that should make Mandalika a popular draw for enthusiasts tempted by the combination of adrenaline fuelled action and a holiday either side. While COVID will likely have nixed these plans for this year’s event, those that have made the trip are in for a thriller as Toprak Razgatlioglu leads Jonathan Rea in the fight for the 2021 WorldSBK Championship title.

With the circuit - so brand new it only held its first-ever motorcycle racing event the previous weekend - adding another dimension to an already tense title fight, little is known about its twists and turns, beyond some fancy CGI which you can watch right HERE:

A flat layout befitting of its sea level surroundings, the Mandalika Circuit offers 17 turns, many of which are flat high-speed or medium, throttle balancing bends, with only a couple of hard braking areas for the majority of the passes to be made.

These can be found at Turn 1, which dives into a right-hander before leading into a similarly tricky turn two left-hander, which is followed by a double apex pinned throttle run into Turns 3 and 4.

The slowest corner on the circuit will be the penultimate Turn 16, a wide entry but tight apex hairpin that loops back towards another overtaking opportunity into Turn 17 and onto the home straight.

There isn’t an obvious bike that would necessarily suit the circuit over others, but expect things to be close between Yamaha, Kawasaki and Ducati as ever.

The significance of Indonesia’s WorldSBK return

Spain, Italy and the UK may have the numbers in terms of races and riders when it comes to motorcycle racing, but when it comes to sheer number of fans, then Indonesia ranks highly - if not highest of all.

Indeed, Indonesians have been crying out for World Championship motorcycle racing since the well-attended but poorly maintained Sentul slipped off the WorldSBK calendar in 1997. Since then several attempts to get WorldSBK back have failed, but this new venue represents an entirely fresh approach.

Technically it is regarded as a street venue, but huge gravel traps can be found before the walls separating the riders from an early bath.

It’s been a little close to the wire to get things ready, with the inaugural race meeting over the weekend suffering a few headaches from a marshalling perspective. It led to a round of the Honda Asia Cup to be cancelled, but organisers insist lessons have been learned quickly.

We shall soon see, but at the very least, the scenery will be very pleasant.