No matter how much you despise the flyaway events that are run at the start of each MXGP series, there is no denying the fact that the warm weather and perfect conditions are a welcome sight. Look at the Grand Prix of Qatar as an example; the first fixture was held in glorious weather and offered teams and sponsors a superb setting to showcase their new look.
There are, of course, instances where that vision does not work out. The first Grand Prix that was held in Thailand was marred by poor weather, but since then the exotic locations have served their purpose. The Indonesian Grand Prix, which is scheduled to take place over the next two days, could be one of the muddiest races in sometime, however. Although temperatures hit extreme highs, frequent thunderstorms have battered the Pangkal Pinang region and left standing water across the MXGP facility.
We, along with many riders and teams, attempted to take in the circuit for the first time today, but endless slop made it near impossible to walk from one side to the other. What could perhaps be a spectacular setting resembled more of a quagmire. The hard work will now begin for all those involved, as just hours stand between us and the first event in Pangkal Pinang. Saving the circuit seems almost impossible; limiting the damage is what the promoters are eager to do.
The problem is that the climate is so tropical on the island, so weather forecasts are rendered useless. Thunderstorms could roll in at any point. In the time that we spent at the track today, taking in some of the broad views on the infrastructure, three separate rain showers had us ducking for cover. There were rumours floating around that day one would be cancelled, but Youthstream were quick to implement a schedule that would allow the track crew time to resurrect the circuit ahead of the qualifying heats (that’ll be shown on their popular subscription service).
What sort of layout will the riders be tackling this weekend? Well, it is a jump-laden circuit with a lot of switchbacks. There is even what appears to be a wall jump and something that resembles a dragon’s back, although it was tough to decipher amongst the endless streams of standing water. On a circuit such as this, or Suphan Buri for example, wet weather may make it a little more bearable for those not in favour of visiting such locations. Slowing the circuit down and opening up a lot more lines will undoubtedly aid the racing, as not as much time will be spent jumping from one corner to the next, but obviously there is a fine line between that and a complete washout.
Although we are on an island that could really be described as barren, the facilities at the circuit are actually quite impressive. The paddock is situated inside a very small stadium, but offers everyone a clean and dry place to work from, and WiFi is great (brilliant news for all of you hoping to follow our content throughout the weekend). Those who are in the surrounding area are clearly ecstatic to have MXGP rock up onto their doorstep, which is all you really want. I expect the crowd to be similar to what we had in Suphan Buri twelve months ago, rather than like the turnout in Qatar.
There you have some thoughts and insight ahead of the MXGP of Indonesia to keep your mind ticking through the night. The time difference means that you’ll wake up tomorrow with an abundance of our coverage to sift through, so prepare yourself for some light reading with breakfast!
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Sean Ogden