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Pertamina Grand Prix of Indonesia Review

Pertamina Grand Prix of Indonesia Review

The Mandalika racetrack is a difficult and challenging racetrack on the coast of Indonesia. The race weekend was filled with plot twist, crashes and heartbreake! 


From the first green flag, it was clear that Jorge Martin would build on his previous form. Having won the last 3 sprint races and dominating most sessions, he was the favorite to take the gold in Indonesia too.

The weekend, however, was all about one man: Marc Marquez, who announced a shock switch to Gresini Ducati in 2024. Like so many others, I was indeed surprised to see an 8-time world champion willingly abandon a factory seat for a private, second-hand Ducati in 2024. But, given HRC's cringy lack of form, it's understandable that Marquez chose to abandon ship in a desperate bid to build on his former success.

But sadly for Marquez, he quickly vanished from the spotlight with the Mooney VR46 riders taking over. It was first Bezzecchi who drew attention to himself, just five days after being operated on a broken collarbone. An unlucky crash at The Doctor's ranch resulted in a broken right collarbone. However, that didn't stop the title contender from fighting his way to P1 in the first practice session. His form looked promising, but Martin was still the clear favorite, flanked by two potent Aprilia riders in Vinales and Espargaro. But, despite their efforts, it was yet another injured Mooney VR46 rider that took Saturday spoils as Luca Marini secured his first MotoGP pole position.

Qualifying highlights

The Saturday heartbreak came for the championship leader Pecco Bagnaia. A rather underwhelming practice session left him outside the top 10 when it was time to set a fast lap. A mistake in the last sector saw him miss an automatic promotion to Q2, leaving the world champion with work to do. And, yet again, in Q1 Bagnaia failed to break through and ended up qualifying no higher than 13th on the grid.

Unlike Bagnaia, Luca Marini was able to turn his fortune, while riding with a broken left collarbone. He topped Q1, only to bring his Ducati to a masterful all-time lap record of 01:29.9780. Granting him pole position on his return to action and beating the fast-looking Aprilias. Martin found himself in a disappointing 6th place after an uncharacteristic tumble in Q2.

Sprint race

As always, the action-packed 12-lap dash was filled with overtakes, crashes, and mistakes. Most notably, Marc Marquez was one of the first riders to hit the deck. His RC213V would prove yet again too much to handle.

It was, however, Martin who would push through the pack early on for a secured lead. Showing his pace and dominance throughout the race. Luca Marini tried to keep up as long as he could but would eventually fall behind. Marco Bezzecchi was able to impress, though. Hunting down the pack and elevating himself up to 3rd place. A very valiant effort by the two injured Mooney VR46 riders.

Bagnaia was arguably the biggest loser of this race, not making any headway whatsoever. His 8th place came in large part due to crashes in front of him, leaving him disappointed. More importantly, without the championship lead. Martin's victory was enough to secure the championship for the first time this year. Game on.

Sunday race

The stakes were high then for Martin and Bagnaia for the main event. Pecco's lack of form was the perfect opportunity for Martin to create a championship advantage. However, Pecco had warned before the race that the last time he'd qualified outside of Q2, he won the race in Jerez. He had also vowed to be more aggressive at the start to overtake and bring his GP23 to the front of the pack.

Martin got a stellar launch, seizing early control of the race into Turn 1. And, it became clear he would do whatever it took to create a gap and control the race. Nobody was able to match his early pace and the gap opened up to a significant 3s. Behind him, Bagnaia stuck to his word and made up no less than 7 positions in just one lap. He was already up to 3rd place at half race distance.

Distaster struck for Marini as Binder lost control of his KTM under braking. According to the South-African, his brake pads had gone astray because of a headshake during on the exit of the previous corner. Unfortunatly for Marini, that resulted in a DNF and a missed opportunity to build on a solit Saturday performance. Binder would later also park his KTM into the side of Oliviera, leaving him with a long lap penalty. 

But that's not all, when the weekend saw its biggest heartbreak with just 14 laps to go: Jorge Martin binned it. A good old-fashioned front wash-out resulted in a DNF at the worst possible time for him. After the race, he admitted to being wide into turn 11, causing his front to lose traction.

What followed was yet another insult to injury for Martin: Pecco delivered one of the best races of the season. Battling his way past Vinales, he found himself in P1, bringing home the maximum points. Not only had he turned around his weak performance of the weekend, he fought his way from P13 all the way to gold. This means he leaves Mandalika with an 18-point advantage over Martin. That's not much, given the fact we have so many races left. But every point counts and it sure as hell is a blow to Martin's confidence.


Overall, the Indonesian Grand Prix didn't disappoint in terms of drama and excitement. No matter who you're rooting for in this championship, there were highs and lows for everybody. It's going to be vital for both Martin and Bagnaia to salvage a good points haul in Australia. Philip Island has the tendency to be unpredictable as most riders (rightly) love this track. We'll find out soon how this championship will unfold, or if it will go down to the wire!