The Portuguese rider didn’t put a foot wrong in Indonesia as Yamaha and Ducati pick up podiums
Well it was worth the wait, wasn’t it? On a rain-soaked Sunday afternoon at the Pertamina Grand Prix of Indonesia, Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) mastered the wet conditions to claim victory in Mandalika.
Reigning World Champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) finished second ahead of compatriot Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing), as Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was forced to miss the race due to a concussion sustained in his huge Warm Up crash.
Oliveira untouchable after delayed start
After over an hour delay to proceedings due to heavy rainfall in Lombok, at 16:15 local time, for the first time in 25 years, it was lights out in Indonesia for the premier class. Quartararo got an outstanding launch from pole position and comfortably collected the holeshot. Oliveira made a lightning start from P7 to grab P2, and Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) was swiftly up to P3 from P6 on the grid.
At the start of Lap 2, both Oliveira and Miller passed Quartararo. Miller then picked off Oliveira for the race lead, as the top two started to break clear of third place Quartararo, who had Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), compatriot Zarco and a rapid starting Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) for company.
Rins and Zarco got the better of Quartararo, but they faced a 2.4s gap to Miller and Oliveira. The latter carved his way past the Ducati of Miller at Turn 12 on Lap 6 to retake the lead, with Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) somehow staying on his GP22 after a huge moment going into Turn 1. The Italian was down to P12 behind Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) and Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), with Championship leader Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) P20 from fifth on the grid – and struggling.
Having just got the better of Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) for P7, Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) caught one of the puddles at Turn 1, and unlike Ducati counterpart Bagnaia, there was no saving a crash for Martin. The 2021 Rookie of the Year was down, out, but thankfully ok. Meanwhile, Oliveira had stretched his lead to 1.6s. Miller was second, Rins third, Zarco fourth, and Quartararo fifth with 12 laps to go.
At half race distance, Zarco was the quickest rider on track. A quality move followed on Rins at Turn 12 for P3, and Miller wasn’t far up the road. Oliveira, however, was. 3.5s was now the Portuguese star’s advantage heading into the second half of the race. Zarco was looking desperate to pass Miller, while just behind, Quartararo had found some great rhythm. El Diablo was back into P3 with five laps to go, as he and fellow Frenchman Zarco scrapped away.
Quartararo was the fastest rider on track and was back up to second on Lap 16 of 20. Zarco, eventually, followed the Yamaha man through to get the better of Miller, and with three laps to go, was a special comeback from Quartararo on the cards? The gap was slashed by a second on Lap 17, Oliveira’s lead was down to 3.4s – game on?
Oliveira responded though. The gap came down, but only by a couple of tenths. At the start of the last lap, it was 2.8s, so barring an error, Oliveira just needed to bring it home. Quartararo had a 0.9s buffer to Zarco, who in turn had 2.3s in hand over Miller.
The last lap was completed without worry for Oliveira. An absolutely stunning performance at a rain-drenched Pertamina Mandalika Circuit to claim victory for the first time since the 2021 Catalan GP. Quartararo picked up a phenomenal P2 that will feel like a win for the Frenchman, and it’s a return to the rostrum for the first time since Barcelona 2021 for Zarco in P3.
Stories galore down in the points
Miller, always strong in the wet, takes home a hard-earned P4, with Rins doing well to claim P5. P6 for Mir, having started from P18, is also a job well done for the 2020 World Champion. Morbidelli was a very lonely P7 despite his three-place grid penalty, as we witnessed an almighty battle for P8.
It was won in the end by Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), but 1.1s behind the South African was Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) in P12. Between them came Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) in ninth, the unbelievable, probably star of the day Darryn Binder (WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP™ Team) in P10 – who was by far the fastest rookie – and World Championship leader Bastianini.
Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) was also in that battle and picked up P13, Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) was 14th with Bagnaia slipping to a disappointing P15 – that’s one point from the opening two races for one of the pre-season title favourites.
Andrea Dovizioso (WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP™ Team) was the only other non-finisher alongside Martin, the Italian encountered some sort of issue with his YZR-M1.
Well, it’s safe to say the Indonesia GP was full of action. Oliveira goes home with the race-winning trophy, Bastianini remains the title leader, and there’s only 10 points between the top nine heading to Argentina for Round 3.
1. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
2. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 2.205
3. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) + 3.158
4. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 5.663
5. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 7.044
6. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 7.832
7. Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) + 21.115
8. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 32.586
9. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) + 32.586
10. Darryn Binder (WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP™ Team) + 32.901