Honda’s four MotoGP riders completed the final day of 2022 pre-season testing at Indonesia’s brand-new Mandalika circuit full of confidence for this year’s World Championship, which gets underway in Qatar on March 6.
Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) topped the three-day session, with the fastest-ever lap around the seaside venue, which will host Indonesia’s first MotoGP event in 25 years on March 20.
Honda engineers and the Repsol Honda Team have done a remarkable job with this year’s RC213V, which has been completely redesigned for the 2022 season. Despite minimal pre-season testing – two days at Sepang, Malaysia, and three days at Mandalika – all four Honda riders are delighted with the machine and are performing well.
Espargaro completed more than 180 laps during the three days. He ended the test announcing he’s never felt in better shape before the start of a new season and cannot wait for the racing to start. The 30-year-old Spaniard feels great on the new RC213V, even in Mandalika’s searing heat. The bike allows him to aggressively use the throttle on corner exits, taking full advantage of Michelin’s latest rear slick to maximise performance.
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) was just 0.421 seconds behind his team-mate, even though he didn’t ride a time-attack lap today, instead focusing on race pace to make sure he will be in the hunt for victory in Qatar and beyond. Yesterday he rode a very impressive race simulation, while also making important progress with machine set-up. He rode 212 laps here and is delighted with the feel and feedback he’s getting from the new bike.
This will the tenth season in the premier class for the six-times MotoGP king, who celebrates his 29th birthday this Thursday, February 17. Marquez’s last two seasons have been blighted by injury issues but now he’s fully fit and is looking forward to fighting to regain the world title with the new RC213V.
MotoGP has never been closer, with the fastest 21 riders at Mandalika covered by just 0.855 seconds.
Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) was 14th, only 0.122 seconds slower than his older brother. The 25-year-old Spaniard also did some impressive long runs, feeling confident in his riding and enjoying the potential of the new RC213V as the 2019 Moto2 World Champion prepares for his third season in MotoGP.
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) was 17th, just 0.084 seconds further back from his LCR Honda team-mate and a mere six tenths of a second behind Espargaro. The 30-year-old tested various new parts today, including different aerodynamic designs, an increasingly important part of MotoGP performance. All riders must homologate their aerodynamics on the eve of the Qatar GP. They are allowed one aero update during the season.
Mandalika is the second venue to host an Indonesian MotoGP event. Motorcycling’s premier World Championship visited the country twice previously, in 1996 and 1997, when the Indonesian Grand Prix was staged at the Sentul racetrack, near the country’s capital city of Jakarta. Both those events were won by Repsol Honda Team riders – Mick Doohan in 1996 and Tadayuki Okada in 1997 – riding Honda NSR500 machines.
Mandalika is situated on the south coast of the island of Lombok, next door to the island of Bali. The 4.3-km/2.68-mile circuit is fast and challenging, with several high-speed sections that test rider and machine to the limit. Huge crowds are expected at next month’s race, because interest in MotoGP in Indonesia is massive. The venue hosted its first major event last November, the last round of the 2021 World Superbike Championship.
The Indonesian GP is the second race of the 2022 season, which will be the longest in MotoGP history, with 21 races over nine months on five continents. After Qatar and Indonesia the paddock moves to Argentina, then to the USA, before the Portuguese GP on April 24 starts the main European run of the championship.