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 preseason 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 circuit’s near-finished status, which meant the new asphalt was often dirty and hard to judge. Most of the riders enjoyed the challenging fast layout and collected some vital data and information for the race-ready state of the RC16 and future development.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder held the top spot in the screens on the second day, and a minor 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 a peak of the chart.
Miguel Oliveira was not far away in the 15th, but the Portuguese completed a rapid race simulation on day three, giving the former GP winner a substantial 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 on 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 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 the corner and with rear grip in general: those are my two main things.
If we can sort them out, I think we’re going to be in good shape, but I’m much happier. Hats off to the team, and thanks everybody for their hard work. Qatar is a track that will 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 sweltering conditions, and it was swift.
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 we know that we have good tools to do the job. We had five long days of work, and the team did a great job, a great effort.
I want to thank them. I think we have a 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, I didn’t feel well when I got on the bike this morning. I crashed again this morning, 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. Since the Jerez test in November, the process has been positive, and I have improved a lot. I feel happy with the work done, my team, and I am 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 needed to iron out, but the pace was better. After that, I felt tired, and my wrist was hurting, so we decided to stop at lunchtime.
I have learned a lot during these winter tests. We will compare the data with the other three KTM riders 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 many 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 prepare for the first race.
The details will make a 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 seemed to like, and it was vital for them to try it on another track and see how it reacts to the standard set-up changes that we make from circuit to circuit.
We were pretty successful because it worked right away even if the track conditions were not that great: we managed to react to that.
We prioritised the parts for homologation, and they had to be rechecked. I think this part of the test was also successful. The last area of the trial was to go deeper into development. We always have a large crate of features 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 another bike out of those, but we put much 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 took much time to get the best out of those components.
Not only in testing but also in defining targets for making them work and understanding the potential. 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
via KTM Press Release