Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and Tech3 KTM Factory Racing had three days and plenty of laps to get acquainted with the new Pertamina Mandalika Circuit on the island of Lombok in Indonesia for the second and final pre-season test of 2022. Brad Binder set the 11th quickest lap among the quartet from combined times.
Mandalika will host the second round of the 2022 series for its inaugural Grand Prix on March 20th and the three-day session for the MotoGP runners was a perfect opportunity to get familiar with the circuit, the climate and to judge any final technical changes to race bikes before the homologation phase for the season closes. The test was marked by some unstable weather and the near-finished status of the circuit itself which meant the new asphalt was often dirty and hard to judge. Most of the riders enjoyed the challenging fast layout and some vital data and information was collected for the race-ready state of the RC16 as well as for future development.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder held the top spot in the screens on the second day and a small technical issue prevented another time attack as the clock ticked down. The South African’s final push on day three was just half a second from peak of the chart. Miguel Oliveira was not far away in 15th but the Portuguese completed a rapid race simulation on day three that gave the former GP winner strong cause for optimism.
Tech3 KTM Factory Racing ended the test with Raul Fernandez 22nd (but the Spaniard opted to sit out the final outing after a fast crash on the second day) and Remy Gardner in 23rd even though the Australian was still feeling the effects of his recent wrist injury.
The 21-race 2022 campaign will start with the Grand Prix of Qatar at the Losail International Circuit on March 6th.
Brad Binder: “So far so good. The bike is working better and I’m working better. We have found some good things and we have improved our package from last year. We still need to work to increase that forward step that we’ve made over these five days in Malaysia and Indonesia. Now we can go home, evaluate and hopefully come back even stronger in Qatar. I think we can progress with our drive out of corner and with rear grip in general: those are my two main things. If we can sort them out then I think we’re going to be in good shape but I’m much happier. Hats-off to the team and thanks to everybody for their hard work. Qatar is a track that will really push us but I’m confident we’re in a better place than 2021.”
Miguel Oliveira: “Many laps again today and we did a race simulation with the medium tire in very hot conditions and it was very fast. Coming here we had quite a bit of work to do but, finally, I’m happy with the pace we managed and I think we can trust this will help us for qualification sessions and getting a better starting position at the GPs. We still have more room to improve the bike but I do know that we have good tools to do the job. We had five longs day of work and the team did a great job, a great effort. I want to thank them. I think we have good pace to start the season and I think this is the most important thing.”
Raul Fernandez: “Yesterday I crashed and everything seemed good after my medical check. However when I got on the bike this morning, I didn’t feel well. I crashed again this morning and so I went for another medical check and my speed reflexes were not perfect. The doctors decided that the safest option was to stop for the day. Anyway, we did a good job here in Mandalika. Day after day, my feeling with the bike gets better and I feel competitive because yesterday I was in the top 15 most of the time. Now I need to rest and focus on recovery because it has been a very intense preseason from a physical perspective. The process since the Jerez test in November has been positive and I have improved a lot. I feel happy with the work done, my team, and I am really motivated to go racing in Qatar.”
Remy Gardner: “Today was the eighth day of riding in two weeks. This morning we did a race simulation. We found a few issues that we need to iron out but the pace was better. After that I felt tired and my wrist was hurting so we decided to stop at lunch time. I have learned a lot during these winter tests. We will compare the data with the other three KTM riders to try to understand where we can improve but I also still need to feel more comfortable with the machine, and it will come with races and experiences. It has been tough physically and I look forward to going home now, taking some time to relax, recover and get ready for Qatar.”
Francesco Guidotti, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Manager: “We had a lot of comments to take into consideration, as well as the feedback from Dani [Pedrosa] and Mika [Kallio] from the shakedown test in Sepang and this meant we had a lot to get through here but we achieved our plan. We now need to go home, analyse the data and go deep into the details to be ready for the first race. The details will make the difference with our 2022 package. The team is great and have been pushing hard these days, so I want to thank them for that. We know Qatar could be very close but hopefully we are in the front group.”
Sebastian Risse, Red Bull KTM Technical Manager MotoGP: “We had some productive and intense days. After Sepang we had a package that the riders seem to like and it was important for them to try it on another track and see how it reacts to the normal set-up changes that we make from circuit to circuit. I think we were quite successful because it worked right away even if the track conditions were not that great: we managed to react to that. We put the parts for homologation as a priority and they had to be checked again and I think this part of the test was also successful. The last area of the test was to go deeper into development. We always have a large crate of parts to try and see what can work better so we took the time to look at the next steps. I think we found something interesting there. For our work in 2022 we have changed two areas. Firstly, we did not bring a completely different bike to these tests. We did bring a lot of different parts so, in the end, we made a different bike out of those but we put a lot of effort into making those interchangeable so you can test them one-by-one and assess more easily what is positive and negative; then hopefully put everything together for the best mix. Secondly, we really took a lot of time to get the best out of those components. Not only in testing but in definition of targets for making them work and to understand the potential. A quality instead of quantity approach and I think that worked quite well.”
Mandalika Official Test Combined Times
1. Pol Espargaro (ESP), Honda 1:31.060
2. Fabio Quartararo (FRA) Yamaha 1:31.074
3. Luca Marini (ITA) Ducati 1:31.289
4. Aleix Espargaro (ESP), Aprilia 1:31.385
5. Franco Morbidelli (ITA) Yamaha 1:31.416
11. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 1:31.574
15. Miguel Oliveira (POR) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 1:31.620
22. Raul Fernandez (ESP) Tech3 KTM Factory Racing 1:32.401
23. Remy Gardner (AUS) Tech3 KTM Factory Racing 1:32.598