Indonesian WorldSBK round at risk over finances

The Indonesian round of the WorldSBK Championship could be pulled, after its organisation was found to have caused significant financial losses.

Race start, 2023 Indonesian WorldSBK. - Gold and Goose

The Indonesian round of WorldSBK is reportedly at risk, due to financial losses made on the round.

Held at the Mandalika Street Circuit since 2021, WorldSBK’s Indonesian round has reportedly caused losses of 100 billion Indonesian Rupiah (Rp100 billion), as reported by CNN Indonesia.

The news has emerged from a meeting between Indonesia’s House of Representatives and Dony Oskaria, the President of InJourney, an Indonesian state-owned tourism company.

Oskaria is reported to have said that InJourney will “negotiate to eliminate WSBK,” as a result of the losses. Oskaria puts the losses down to the lack of attraction towards WorldSBK from sponsors.

The MotoGP Indonesian Grand Prix also brings losses for InJourney, but half that of WorldSBK (Rp 50 billion). Oskaria, though, believes that it will be possible to find sufficient sponsorship to bridge InJourney’s current gap between operational costs and sponsorship income for the MotoGP race at Mandalika.

The tightening of the financial belt around Indonesia’s World Championship races is partly down to the debt the circuit owes of Rp4.6 trillion, or around £242 million (accurate at time of writing, 29 June 2023). CNN Indonesia reports that the debt is split into short-term Rp1.2 trillion and long-term Rp3.4 trillion payment obligations.

2023 saw Indonesia host its third WorldSBK race meeting, after the final round of 2021 - in which Toprak Razgatlioglu clinched the title - and the penultimate round of 2022 - in which Alvaro Bautista clinched the title. 

The 2023 edition was notable as playing host to the only race of the 2023 WorldSBK season so far which was not won by Bautista. The reigning champion crashed in the Superpole Race, which was then won by Razgatlioglu.

The 2023 MotoGP Indonesian Grand Prix will be the second to be held at Mandalika after the first edition last year, which was won by Miguel Oliveira.
MotoGP’s experience with Mandalika has so far been marred by track surface problems. The preseason test at the circuit in 2022 saw the circuit breaking up in places, which required a resurface before the Grand Prix was held. 

Another issue with the surface is its cleanliness, or lack thereof, which means the racing line is always very narrow, and overtaking very hard, as straying from the line puts the overtaking rider at significant risk of a crash. It was this, straying from the line, which resulted in Bautista’s aforementioned crash in the 2023 Superpole Race at Mandalika.

MotoGP and WorldSBK are not the only motorsports events to take place on the island of Lombok, as the MXGP World Championship will host its first event on the island this weekend (30 June - 1 July), a week after its first Indonesian round of the 2023 season in Sumbawa, which itself hosted its first MXGP round in 2022.

The 2023 World Superbike Championship continues this weekend with the UK round at Donington Park. MotoGP will head to Mandalika for the 2023 Indonesian Grand Prix on 13-15 October.

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