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) put in an absolute masterclass in wet conditions to claim victory and bounce back in style from a tough opening round. Reigning World Champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) sliced back through to second for his first podium of the season, ahead of compatriot Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) in third. The win for Oliveira sees KTM head the Constructors’ standings for the first time, as well as putting Red Bull KTM Factory Racing top in the teams’ title fight thanks to their Qatar podium and, now, first victory of the season.
The drama began early on Sunday, however, as Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) suffered a huge crash in Warm Up and was forced to miss the race due to concussion. Then, after Moto2™, the rain came down as thunderstorms hit Lombok, but after more than an hour’s delay, at 16:15 local time, it was lights out in Indonesia for the first time in 25 years. Quartararo got an outstanding launch from pole position, comfortably collecting the holeshot, as Oliveira made a lightning start from P7 to grab second and Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) shot swiftly up to P3 from sixth on the grid.
At the start of Lap 2, both Oliveira and Miller passed Quartararo as the early pacesetters started to stretch their legs, with the Australian then picking off Oliveira for the race lead too. Now down in third, Quartararo had Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), compatriot Zarco and a rapid starting Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) for company too – the 2020 Champion up from way down the grid after a nightmare Q1.
Rins and Zarco then got the better of Quartararo early on, but they faced an already substantial 2.4s gap to Miller and Oliveira… and that order was about to switch. The Portuguese rider carved his way past the Ducati of Miller at Turn 12 on Lap 6 to retake the lead, and then he got the hammer down.
Meanwhile, there was a big moment for Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), the Italian somehow staying on after a snap into Turn 1. Still, he slipped 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™) struggling even more, dow in P20 from fifth on the grid.
Back in the top ten though, Turn 1 was about to bite again. Having just got the better of Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) for P7, Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) then became the first and only crasher of the race in the braking zone into the first corner, the 2021 Rookie of the Year down, out, but ok.
At the front, there were no such dramas. 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 though, Zarco was the quickest rider on track and a quality move came on Rins at Turn 12 for P3. Miller wasn’t far up the road from the Frenchman either, and he looked desperate to pass the Australian as Quartararo really started to find his groove behind them. Sure enough, El Diablo was back into P3 with five laps to go, with he and Zarco fighting it out in spectacular style.
Oliveira was 3.5s clear as the battle raged behind, but with Quartararo now the fastest rider on track and back up to second on Lap 16 of 20. Zarco also managed to follow the Yamaha man through on Miller, and with three laps to go, it suddenly started to look like Oliveira might be in the crosshairs after all. The gap was slashed by a second and the lead was down to 3.4s – was it game on?
Quartararo took a tenth more here and there as the laps ticked down, but Oliveira responded. At the start of the last lap, it remained a healthy 2.8s and the Portuguese rider just needed to bring it home, with Quartararo enjoying a 0.9s buffer to Zarco, who in turn had 2.3s in hand over Miller. The podium seemed decided, and it was.
Crossing the line for his first win of the year, Oliveira’s masterclass sees the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider take 25 points, puts KTM on top in the title and factory fights, and moves him up 16 places in the riders’ Championship to boot. After a tough start in Qatar and for much of the latter half of 2021, it was quite a statement ride by the multiple MotoGP™ winner.
Nevertheless, Quartararo celebrated P2 like a win as the Frenchman showed his wet weather prowess for the first time in the premier class, taking some valuable points too. Zarco completed the podium, the third place marking a return to the rostrum for the number 5 for the first time since Barcelona 2021.
Miller, always strong in the wet, takes home a hard-earned P4, with Rins putting in a solid ride to claim P5. P6 for Mir, having started from the lower echelons of the top 20, is also a job well done for the 2020 World Champion too, and he got onto the back of his teammate by the flag. Morbidelli ended up a somewhat lonely P7 despite his three-place grid penalty as we witnessed an almighty battle for P8 behind the Italian.
It was won in the end by Brad Binder, who was just ahead of Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) over the line. But the South African had to get his elbows to take that eighth place by force, and it was none other than his brother, WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP™ Team’s Darryn Binder, standing in the way.
The rookie put in a tour de force and one of the rides of the day, leading the battle for eighth onto the final lap before Brad Binder struck, then only losing out to the number 33 and Espargaro’s Aprilia. The number 40 claimed his first points and top ten after an absolute barnstormer, top rookie by some margin.
World Championship leader Bastianini, who retains that moniker by two single points ahead of Brad Binder and recovering well in the latter stages, took P11 ahead of Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team), Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) and Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team). Bagnaia slipped down the order after his earlier moment to a tough P15, making it 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 after the Italian encountered an issue with his YZR-M1 and was forced to retire.
That’s take one on Lombok in the history books, and it’s safe to say the Indonesian 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… as well as a new manufacturer on top in the standings. Join us for more as MotoGP™ returns at Termas de Rio Hondo!