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Indonesia hosts World Superbike final on brand new circuit

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MANDALIKA, INDONESIA (AP) – The final round of the World Superbike Championship on the Indonesian tourist island of Lombok drew tens of thousands of fans yesterday, the largest crowd for an event in the country since the start of the pandemic coronavirus, as Toprak Razgatlioglu became the first Turkish driver to win the title.

Razgatlioglu, a Yamaha rider, won the WorldSBK Championship after finishing second behind six-time world champion Jonathan Rea in the first race on the beach side circuit. The first and second races took place yesterday after severe thunderstorms on Saturday forced the first race to be rescheduled.

In the final race, Razgatlioglu held a comfortable 30-point lead over defending champion Rea, a Kawasaki rider. His victory made him the first rider to beat Rea for the WorldSBK title since 2015.

Crowds at the new Pertamina Mandalika Street International Circuit topped 20,000 on the last day yesterday and around 15,000 in a free practice session on Friday, said the executive vice president of the Mandalika Grand Prix Association. , Cahyadi Wanda.

The new 4.3-kilometer circuit, inaugurated by President Joko Widodo last week, has 17 turns and 40 garages and a 507-meter straight. The grandstand can accommodate up to 50,000 people and the total capacity is 200,000.

Yamaha rider Toprak Razgatlioglu and Kawasaki Racing Team rider Jonathan Rea compete in Race 1 of the World Superbike Championship at the Mandalika International Circuit. PHOTO: AP

The world championship was Indonesia’s first major international motorcycle race in more than two decades, which authorities said was seen as a launching pad for reviving tourism in one of the country’s most popular destinations.

Only fully vaccinated spectators or those with negative COVID-19 tests were allowed to enter the circuit.

Indonesia has been one of the countries in Asia hardest hit by the pandemic. Its COVID-19 workload, which peaked at around 56,000 daily cases in July, has declined significantly, to around 500 cases per day last week.

MotoGP is one of the most watched sports in Indonesia, but it has been 24 years since the country hosted a MotoGP round in the town of West Javas Sentul.

A highly anticipated MotoGP race will be held in Mandalika next March as the second Grand Prix of the 2022 season.

Indonesia sought to be included in the racing calendar, but struggled to secure a world-class circuit until the Widodos administration in 2015 chose Mandalika on the picturesque island of Lombok, next to Bali. , to build a new race track from scratch.

Like Bali, Lombok is known for its pristine beaches and mountains.

The sports cluster project, which covers 130 hectares and includes hotels and other facilities, is located in the Mandalika Special Economic Zone. It is part of a central government-backed economic development program of $ 3 billion, of which $ 1 billion has been allocated for the construction of the race track to support local tourism and accelerate development in the eastern part. from the country.

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