A steaming climate on the island of Lombok clinged to the Mandalika Street Circuit as Brad Binder and Jack Miller made it through 27 grueling laps for round fifteen of twenty in 2023 MotoGP and classified with 6th and 7th positions. The Indonesian Grand Prix was played out in front of a 73,000 crowd on Sunday and as the first of six events in the next seven weeks. Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Pedro Acosta succeeded in Moto2.
Mandalika shimmered and glistened in the October heat for the latest pulsating episode of 2023 MotoGP and with Red Bull KTM gritting their teeth for more rewards from the Indonesia Grand Prix in the wake of disappointment on Saturday. Brad Binder and Jack Miller started from 5th and 10th on the grid respectively and both had designs of improvement on the 9th position posted by Miller during the Sprint 24-hours earlier.
The relatively new track was hosting MotoGP for just the second time and - aside from the excessive heat - the dirty state of the asphalt away from the main racing line presented the biggest obstacle or risk for brave overtaking moves. On Sunday the track temperature reached a frying 57 degrees.
Binder started rapidly but contact with another rider on the second lap while jostling for 3rd meant that the South African had to take a Long Lap penalty and dropped from 5th to 10th. He responded through the rest of the race to fight back but another touch meant he had to swallow the sanction again and ended a dramatic day with 6th. Miller was impressively competitive in the mid-top ten and remained solid to collect 7th at the flag.
Brad remains rooted in 4th spot in the championship standings. He has a 72 point deficit to the top three but holds a margin of 34 over the 5th place runner. Miller is 9th while Red Bull KTM Factory Racing are inside the top four of eleven for the Teams competition. KTM retain 2nd position in the Constructors table. The fantastically technical, fast and flowing Phillip Island circuit is up next for the paddock and far cooler climes south of Melbourne for MotoGP’s next adventure.
Brad Binder, 6th: “I don’t really know where to start. I was a bit unsure of which tire to choose and, in the end, the medium rear was the right one, so thanks to the team for helping with that. The first laps were quite OK. I just wanted to build-up confidence in the tire and I had a little shake in Turn 8 and when I went for the brakes in 9 the lever came right back to my fingers so I didn’t have much pressure. I wanted to move out so I didn’t hit the guys and the only place was the inside. So, I’m very sorry to the whole Mooney VR46 team and of course Luca [Marini]. After that I just tried to push and gain as much as I could but hit Miguel [Oliveira] into Turn 2: 100% my fault. So, more apologies to him and his team. Two Long Laps and I deserved them both. Considering everything we were lucky to finish 6th and to reach the flag. Phillip Island is my favorite track in the calendar, we just need to protect the tire there. I’ve had good feeling in the past so I hope it will be a positive weekend.”
Jack Miller, 7th: “Happy enough with the performance this weekend and we had a strong showing. I made a couple of little mistakes that cost us a bit of time but in general a decent pace at the end of race, which is always a positive in these hot conditions. The bike was working well. I’m happy with the outcome and it is nice to have two decent weekends in a row with both Japan and here. I’m looking forward to heading home now and hopefully putting on a good showing for the Aussie fans.”
Francesco Guidotti, Red Bull KTM Team Manager: “An intense race. For Jack it was solid. He recovered ground to the leaders then kept the position. He suffered a bit with the front tire with ten laps to go but kept steady and finished with some points. It was difficult and the tire choice was not clear but he made the right decision for himself. Brad finished 6th with two long laps! A very fast race for him. It was some shaking at Turn 8 which meant he was missing some braking potential into Turn 9 and hit Luca Marini; we apologize for that but it was something out of our control. Strange contact also the second time. We showed our potential again but we could not catch what we could and what we deserved.”
Results MotoGP Grand Prix of Indonesia
1. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati 41:20.293
2. Maverick Viñales (ESP) Aprilia +0.306
3. Fabio Quartararo (FRA) Yamaha +0.433
6. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +11.228
7. Jack Miller (AUS) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +12.474
World championship standings MotoGP
1. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati, 346 points
2. Jorge Martin (ESP) Ducati 328
3. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA) Ducati, 283
4. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, 211
9. Jack Miller (AUS) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, 135
KTM GP Academy
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Deniz Öncü and Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Daniel Holgado carried the principal KTM Academy hopes in Indonesia. The Turk had qualified 5th and the Spaniard in 7th throughout a tight Q2 chrono on Saturday. Both Jose Rueda and Filippo Farioli were circulating Mandalika for the first time and had to find their references fast around the flat and fast layout.
Moto3 spilled around the 4.3km course with a 12-rider group heading the fray. 20-laps seemed to pass in an instant as Holgado and Öncü both made their presence felt at the front. Holgado misjudged Turn 9 and had to swallow a Long Lap run and despite a spirited charge then had to repeat the penalty. He eventually classified 14th for 2 championship points. Jose Rueda stalked the leaders for most of the distance and made some clever moves on the final laps to snare 5th as the top eight were split by eight tenths of a second! It was the Spaniard’s best ranking since making the podium in Catalunya. Öncü brought up the rear of the bunch in 8th. Farioli crossed the line in 20th.
Holgado is 3rd in the series and 17 points from P1. Öncü is 5th and 54 points adrift. Rueda holds a respectable 8th.
Pedro Acosta kept his Moto2 world championship quest on a steady course thanks to a surging run to victory in the 22-lap affair in Lombok. The Spaniard, in only his second (and last) season in the class recorded his win #7 of the year after launching from 4th on the start grid and the tip of the second row. Moto2 had been extremely close with qualifying laps separated by hundredths of a second but Acosta was superior once more. Teammate Albert Arenas plugged away to grab the last GP point. The former Moto3 world champ was less than half a second from provisional Pole on Saturday and remained in the mix to obtain 15th.
Pedro Acosta: “That was tough from the beginning! Aron was super-strong and I was really trying to push to not stress the front tire too much. It was tough to manage but we have to be happy with this seventh victory. I’m really proud of this team, they prepared such a great bike all the way from FP1. This is for them as well.”
Acosta had constructed a 50 point cushion at the top of the standings coming to Mandalika and the gap is now 65. Only 125 points are left up for grabs in 2023. Now onto Phillip Island for the Guru by Gryfyn Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix next weekend.
Results Moto3 Grand Prix of Indonesia
1. Diogo Moreira (BRA) KTM 33:19.002
2. David Alonso (COL) GASGAS +0.107
3. David Muñoz (ESP) KTM +0.130
5. Jose Rueda (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +0.483
8. Deniz Öncü (TUR) Red Bull KTM Ajo +0.855
14. Daniel Holgado (ESP) Red Bull KTM Tech3 +4.018
20. Filippo Farioli (ITA) Red Bull KTM Tech3 +27.823
World championship standings Moto3
1. Jaume Masia (ESP) Honda 209 points
2. Ayumu Sasaki (JPN) Husqvarna, 193
3. Daniel Holgado (ESP) Red Bull KTM Tech3, 192
5. Deniz Öncü (TUR) Red Bull KTM Ajo, 155
8. Jose Rueda (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo, 111
24. Filippo Farioli (ITA) Red Bull KTM Tech3, 7
Results Moto2 Grand Prix of Indonesia
1. Pedro Acosta (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo 34:51.641
2. Aron Canet (ESP) +2.044
3. Fermin Aldeguer (ESP) +4.716
15. Albert Arenas (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +23.032
World championship standings Moto2
1. Pedro Acosta (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo, 277 points
2. Tony Arbolino (ITA), 212
3. Jake Dixon (GBR), 172
15. Albert Arenas (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo, 62