What is this, Brazil? The Grand Prix contingent were greeted by a jump-laden layout and red soil that resembles the Grand Prix of States of Goias that was run four years ago when they arrived at the thirteenth round of the FIM Motocross World Championship. The Grand Prix of Asia that will be run this weekend is, of course, a new event on the calendar.
It may only be Friday, but it seems that Semarang could turn out to be a success. The track has prompted positive reviews from riders and team members alike, which is not always the way that things work, and there seems to be a larger presence from manufacturers and recognisable brands in the paddock. KTM, Honda, Fox and some others have stands that make the event feel like a traditional Grand Prix and indicate that a considerable number of fans will be flocking to the circuit. The city of Semarang, which has a population of more than a million, is less than thirty minutes away, so it seems that will indeed end up being the case.
Greg Atkins built the circuit and, if you are familiar with his work at some of the other Grand Prix venues, then you already know exactly what is in store. Waves, a split section and big uphill triples are all dotted around the track that covers a significant amount of land. There is some slight elevation, which certainly ticks boxes, as well as off-camber turns. A point that most riders are ecstatic about is the fact that the soil has been mixed with hay to ensure that it stays soft and holds moisture, which is going to be extremely important in the humid conditions.
Unlike the previous Grand Prix in Indonesia, Pangkal Pinang, rain and poor weather is not a concern at all at Semarang. Temperatures will get close to forty degrees on race day, with fifty percent humidity. Fitness will certainly be tested. Jorge Prado was already weary of that a week ago. "I hope it is not so humid," Prado told us exclusively. "I do not know how the humidity is over there, but if it is less humid it is a bit better. The humidity kind of makes you not feel really comfortable. With the heat I am pretty okay this year. [It] will be nice if it is just the heat and not humidity."
Seeing as this new event is being held near a big city, some were intrigued to see if the locals care as much as the ones at Pangkal Pinang. It seems that everything is similar though. There are enormous billboards in the city centre and everyone is well aware of what is going on. It is so interesting and also causes one to question why the reception is not similar at some of the European hotspots. Perhaps that just comes down to intrigue though, especially considering that it is rare for those in Indonesia to have an event of this magnitude on their doorstep. It is certainly an interesting point to ponder though.
Semarang marks the final overseas event of the season, so European fans will not have to desperately scour Google in an attempt to determine the time difference. Practice will be completely by the time that you wake up tomorrow, however, so visit MX Vice as soon as you open your eyes in order to catch up on what has transpired on Asian soil.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Sean Ogden