After an 'incredible' first MotoGP victory on his Gresini debut in Qatar, Enea Bastianini leads the world championship standings heading into this weekend's Indonesian round.
Bastianini may have been hoping for the latest GP22 machinery for this season, but – so far at least - the young Italian's more proven GP21 appears to be a blessing in disguise.
While Bastianini burst past Pol Espargaro in the closing stages of the Lusail race, the best of the GP22's (Johann Zarco) was just eighth across the finish line, albeit with factory riders Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia eliminated by a technical issue and accident respectively.
If the Mandalika pre-season test is anything to go by, and it's a big if given the previous state of the track surface, the new Honda should again be a front-running force in the race this weekend.
Bastianini was only 13th at the test, but just half-a-second off Espargaro's best lap and, most importantly, looked much closer on used tyre pace.
“I cannot wait to get to Indonesia. We’re coming from an incredible race in Qatar, where I claimed my first win. It will be hard to do it again this time, but we surely showed a good pace during testing," Bastianini said.
"They should have finished resurfacing some parts of the track, so I don’t know what to expect. Even tyres will be different compared to testing, but we have to continue working the same way we have been doing up until now.
"I expect a huge crowd and a lot of supporters of Gresini Racing. We’re eager to get started!”
The last time a satellite rider won back-to-back MotoGPs was Fabio Quartararo during the Jerez double-header at the start of 2020.
But the last time a satellite rider completed the back-to-back feat at two different circuits was 2005, when another Gresini rider, Marco Melandri, triumphed on Honda machinery in Turkey and Valencia.
Bastianini's rookie team-mate Fabio Di Giannantonio, also riding a GP21, will be seeking his first MotoGP points after a 17th place in Qatar. The Italian was the second quickest rookie at the test, just a fraction from countryman Marco Bezzecchi (VR46 Ducati).
“We’re returning to an incredible place, where we also have so many supporters. It’s always a great thing and it is important to be embraced by the people’s warm support – and I’m sure it will be this way at Mandalika," di Giannantonio said.
"I’m getting to Indonesia with a bit more experience on how to manage the race, but obviously we’re still in the early stages of our journey: we want to learn, and we also want to do it with the right timeframe.
"The goal is to keep improving bit by bit, and we can do it at Mandalika.”