New, Untested Surface – Is a MotoGP tire disaster looming in Mandalika?
Published: 10th October 2023
After rain saved the circuit’s asphalt in 2022, MotoGP returns to a freshly surfaced and tire-eating Mandalika.
Last year’s Indonesian MotoGP race faced a serious threat when the freshly laid asphalt began deteriorating during the inaugural March event. Doubts loomed large over the race’s feasibility.
However, a twist of fate arrived in the form of monsoon rain, proving to be a hidden blessing. The rain miraculously preserved the track’s integrity, allowing KTM’s Miguel Oliveira to seize victory after completing 20 laps, triumphing over Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) and Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati).
Yet, the battle scars on the track demanded attention. A subsequent round of resurfacing became imperative to mend the damage.
Mandalika, renowned for its high speeds and extreme temperatures, posed a unique challenge for tires. To combat this, Michelin introduced a special, heat-resistant rear tire construction, a feature shared with only a handful of circuits.
However, this innovation, a response to blistering issues during the 2022 pre-season test, posed unforeseen grip challenges for several manufacturers during the previous year’s race weekend. Ducati and KTM showcased progress since the pre-season trials, while Yamaha and Aprilia maintained their ground.
Conversely, Suzuki and especially Honda grappled with rear grip problems and additional front tire overheating issues, forcing them to rely more on their front tires for turns.
The looming question in the paddock is whether fate will shuffle the deck once more this weekend. As the 2023 event approaches, MotoGP faces a unique situation.
No testing has been conducted on the latest track surface, leaving Michelin to rely on past data and experience for tire selection.
Piero Taramasso from Michelin acknowledged the challenge, stating, “Mandalika is a very, very demanding track. We will find a new asphalt, again, without any tests… Let’s see how it will be this year.”
In the world of MotoGP, uncertainty reigns supreme as the riders and teams prepare to tackle the enigmatic Mandalika circuit, where the unknowns of the track promise an exhilarating challenge for all involved.