Dorna recently confirmed that an agreement had been reached for both MotoGP and WorldSBK to race at a to-be-built street-style circuit in the Mandalika tourist region on the island of Lombok, near Bali, from 2021.

After so many false dawns since Indonesia last hosted a motorcycle grand prix, at Sentul in 1997, backing from state-owned enterprises and a recent reception with the president has provided reassurance that the Mandalika venue is finally the real deal.

But the words 'street-circuit' and 'MotoGP' raised eyebrows, many envisaging 220mph motorcycles being sent out on a barrier-lined Monaco-style F1 track.

Such 'scepticism' was directly addressed by Mark Hughes of MRK1 Consulting which, along with RoadGrip Motorsport, has been appointed by the Indonesian Tourism Development Corporation (IDTC) to plan, implement and run the new circuit.

"We are very conscious that when we announced this project there was a reasonable amount of scepticism about the concept of a street circuit," Hughes said, during a presentation of the project at the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix.

"We have to make very clear that the track has been designed and will be built to the appropriate FIM safety standards for MotoGP."

Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta also made clear that safety would not be compromised.

"We've always said that we don't race in a street circuit, but this has all the facilities of a street circuit - in a middle of a 'city', all the hotels will be there - but with full security [safety] for the riders," declared Ezpeleta.

In other words, it'll basically be a permanent circuit (with all of the normal run-off) but handed over for use by public vehicles during the rest of the year, hence the slightly deceptive 'street' tag. 

In terms of the actual layout, much of the circuit was determined by road plans already in place for the Mandalika resort.

"The master plan for the resort [layout] was actually finished before we got involved. And then between Roadgrip, MRK1 and ITDC we've tweaked that track design," Hughes said.

"We knew we couldn't go in and entirely change it, there had already been too much invested in that, and with the support of Dorna and also the FIM we then made some small changes to accommodate the safety requirements for a Grade A license.

"When you arrive for the race event it will be like arriving at any other MotoGP track. It will have all the infrastructure there," Hughes added. "But a large percentage of that infrastructure would then come out in order to turn the track back into a road network for the resort for the rest of the year.

"I think that's very important for Indonesia, Indonesia is such a widespread country that having a permanent circuit in Indonesia in one place didn't necessarily make sense. But this is great use of the Mandalika resort.

"For example, we will have a fantastic pit building which will double up as a conference and exhibition centre so it will have use outside of the race event and forms part of the infrastructure for the tourism destination."

Some MotoGP circuits have suffered asphalt damage due to use by other championships, most notably bumps in the braking zones caused by F1 cars. But a permanent course is still a carefully controlled environment compared with the wide range of vehicles allowed on a public road.

"One of the core business elements for our partners Roadgrip is maintaining road surfaces, airport runways and they have a very comprehensive technical department that looks after the specifications of asphalt," Hughes explained.

"We will have standard operating procedures in place limiting the type of traffic that can use those [circuit] roads throughout the year to minimise the amount of damage, risk of contamination, and we also have some very specialist equipment to maintain the grip levels of the circuit.

"So we can actually measure the friction of the circuit when it's brand new and we can then maintain that for every race. There's a lot of science behind that. I don't necessarily understand it, but we've taken care of that."

While solutions are in place to maintain the quality of the asphalt, others have expressed concerns over the track layout, which appears to consist largely of slow corners. Ezpeleta cautioned against drawing any conclusions based on a map alone.

"In our experience, it's not possible to look at a layout just on paper and say if it's capable of [being a good layout] or not.

"We think the construction company is doing very well, we see and we are talking with Franco [Uncini] and the rest of the people at the FIM and our opinion is that the race track will be okay.

"If it's nice [to ride] or not? To be honest we'd get different opinions [from the riders] about the 19 circuits. It depends on their results!"

The Mandalika track will be "just over 4.3km", with 19 corners. 50,000 grandstand seats are planned with a general admission of over 100,000.

"We're very conscious that the size of the fanbase in Indonesia is extraordinary," Hughes said. "We are looking at one of the largest, if not the largest, crowd for a MotoGP race."

'Something very special in the history of MotoGP'

That renowned audience is why MotoGP has persisted in seeking a return to Indonesia, despite numerous setbacks...

Click Below for Page 2...

"This project will be something very special in the history of MotoGP," said Ezpeleta, who was among those to visit the proposed venue late last year.

"I have been there before last year's Malaysian Grand Prix, and the place is amazing. For us, it's a very important step for the future of MotoGP.

"It's been very difficult to try to achieve [a return to Indonesia] but finally we arrived at this conclusion and signed the agreement.

"After the success of Malaysia and then Thailand, we think that this area, for the population, for the interest in motorcycles, is very important. For us it’s always important to do it in a safe way and in a very nice place.

"In this project we fulfil both things. On one side we serve a new area for tourism and economic impact, on the other we will make an absolutely safe circuit in a very nice place."

On the side of the partnership, Ricky Baheramsjah of the ITDC outlined the attraction of MotoGP to the Indonesian government.

"MotoGP, as far as I understand from the data, basically you have over 400-million viewers for a MotoGP race. That alone is great marketing for the island of Lombok," he said.

"That's basically what we are trying to aim for, to raise awareness. To make sure people understand it's not just Bali, although Bali is a beautiful island, but we have other destinations in Indonesia that we really want to promote and for sure having motorsport events like MotoGP and World Superbikes certainly adds to that as well.

"We also believe the combination of a motorsport event with a beachside destination - you can take your family and have a great time, maybe even extend you stay - is very attractive for the European market in particular, who may want to travel quite a long distance to see a race but also spend more time on the island."

Eleven hotels, with around 1,900 room keys, are eventually planned adjacent to the track but with Bali expected to provide the bulk of the accommodation.

"We, as a state owned company, own the land and are building the infrastructure, but around the area there will be support for the airport, a longer runway, and also a terminal for ferries, high speed boats, that will bring people from Bali to Lombok," said ITDC President Director, Abdulbar M Mansoer, during the recent reception with the president.

"Bali is our most visited destination and it’s only half an hour by plane, two hours by speedboat. We will rely on Bali for the supply of rooms and hotels, so from day one we don’t have to build tens of hotels, we will use part of Bali. That was promised by our president.

"MotoGP will bring a lot of benefit to the area. Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and I’ve heard Vietnam will have F1, so now Indonesia – as the biggest country in southeast Asia, the biggest economy – will finally have one, so this will bring a lot of attention to the area.

"Lombok has just been hit by earthquakes, so this will be important in the turn around and recovery of Lombok and will benefit everyone in Lombok and also in Indonesia because we’ll have our own world class circuit.

"When we signed on January 28th, we didn’t expect such positive outlook and comments.

"MotoGP is the most exciting motorsport in the opinion of Indonesia because they have the biggest fanbase. There’s over 100 million motorcycles around Indonesia and the races are so exciting."

A five-year deal, 21-22 races?

Baheramsjah revealed that the contracts for both MotoGP and WorldSBK are "for a five-year period, starting from 2021".

Ezpeleta said an early-season date is being discussed and that a test will be held before the inaugural race, as is now standard practice and due to occur later this year at the new circuit in Finland.

The addition of Finland, presumably in 2020, and Indonesia the year after would raise the calendar to 21 events, unless an existing round is dropped. A 'preliminary agreement' is also in place for a return to Brazil in 2021.

"It's too early to say," replied Ezpeleta, when quizzed on calendar size. "We have a contract until [at least] 2020 with all the circuits, others that are after 2021. But it is for sure, if Lombok is ready for 2021 there will be an Indonesian Grand Prix. The rest I can't tell you, 20, 21, 22 races… we need to discuss with our partners.

"When we presented the possibility to race in Indonesia to all the manufacturers and teams they were absolutely happy with that. An Indonesian Grand Prix in this particular place of Lombok-Mandalika will be very welcome in MotoGP. The number of races we will see later."

Jack Miller: 'It looks an amazing grand prix'

It's not just MotoGP's organisers, manufacturers and teams that are delighted about the prospect of an Indonesian Grand Prix.

"I think it's great. From what I understand and what they’ve proposed it looks like an amazing grand prix, one of the best on the calendar," said Australian star Jack Miller.

"I think the more we can race in Asia the better - it's closer for me to go home!"

The Pramac Ducati rider was also not concerned about an expanding calendar.

"It's good for me. I enjoy when we are going race weekend to race weekend to race weekend. It keeps me busy, makes the year go nice and quick!"

For the only Indonesian rider on the current grid, Moto2's Dimas Ekky Pratama, 2021 can't come soon enough.

"It will be amazing for me and for the Indonesian fans because, in Indonesia it’s crazy, a lot of people like MotoGP," he said.

"I can’t wait. When I race in Sepang, it feels like home because many Indonesian people come there. When we race in Lombok, my family, friends and supporters will definitely come and it will be even more like home."