2018 Provisional MotoGP Calendar Released: Thailand Added, British Venue Uncertain

The provisional calendar for the 2018 MotoGP season has been released, and as expected, there are few surprises. The schedule has been expanded to 19 races with the inclusion of the Chang International Circuit in Thailand, which has a contract to host a race through 2020. 

The addition of Thailand hasn't altered the schedule much. The 2018 schedule is almost identical to this year's calendar, with just a few minor variations. The season kicks off a week early in Qatar, and to accommodate that earlier start, the time of the race is to be changed to 7pm local time. Starting earlier will mean that MotoGP avoids the evening dew that can render the track so treacherous.

The series takes two weekends off after Qatar, before embarking on a run of eight races spaced two weeks apart. The races follow the same sequence as this year: Argentina, Austin, Jerez, Le Mans, Mugello, Barcelona, Assen, Sachsenring.

The spate of back-to-back races which plagued 2017 is gone, though it is at the expense of a summer break. There are only two weekends off in July, before MotoGP commences again, with the race at Brno on the first weekend in August. Austria follows a week later, the first back-to-back of the season. 

After Austria, MotoGP heads to the UK for the British Grand Prix. Where that will be held is still to be decided, though obviously the only choices are between Donington Park and Silverstone. Dorna appear to be leaning towards Donington, however, that is contingent on the circuit facilities undergoing a major upgrade. The advantage of Donington over Silverstone is that F1 does not race there, and consequently, the surface is a good deal less bumpy than Silverstone. A decision over which track gets the British Grand Prix could be some time, however.

Misano and Aragon follow Silverstone, and then the series packs up and heads overseas. Adding the Thai round has caused some scheduling headaches, with Dorna not wanting to have the four overseas races back to back. Instead the rounds are to be split into two.

At first, the idea was to make it a two-and-two split, but that proved not to be possible. Instead, Thailand will feature on its own, with a weekend off afterwards. When the circus returns after a free weekend, the overseas flyaway follows the same pattern as last year, with Motegi going first, then Phillip Island and Sepang. Sepang has a contract with Dorna now to be the penultimate round in the championship, an important sales tool now the circuit has ditched F1.

The season wraps up at Valencia, as usual, though the season finale is a week later than in previous years, on 18th November. The 2019 season starts two days later, with the first test at Valencia on the 20th.

Below is the provisional MotoGP calendar for 2018:

Date Grand Prix Venue
18 March Qatar* Losail International Circuit
08 April República Argentina Termas de Río Hondo
22 April Americas Circuit of The Americas
06 May Spain Circuito de Jerez
20 May France Le Mans
03 June Italy Autodromo del Mugello
17 June Catalunya Barcelona - Catalunya
01 July Netherlands TT Circuit Assen
15 July Germany Sachsenring
05 August Czech Republic Automotodrom Brno
12 August Austria Red Bull Ring - Spielberg
26 August Great Britain** TBA
09 September San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli
23 September Aragón MotorLand Aragón
07 October Thailand Chang International Circuit Buriram
21 October Japan Twin Ring Motegi
28 October Australia Phillip Island
04 November Malaysia Sepang International Circuit
18 November Comunitat Valenciana Comunitat Valenciana - Ricardo Tormo

* Night race
** Circuit to be announced 

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Comments

The Assen GP in July, that must be the first time in eternity! The date has traditionally been the last Saturday in June for as long as I can remember. Of course that tradition was already broken with this year's Sunday races, so this is another departure. Not that it really changes anything about the races itself of course, just noticing.

The addition of Thailand is understandable from a commercial point of view, but that sterile Tilke track at Buriram has so far given us rather boring Superbike races compared to other tracks. Hopefully it will turn out differently with MotoGP.

Good that they start the races in Qatar earlier! I'd even like to see them back during daytime, which should not give serious heat issues that early in the year. And maybe in not too long a time from now they will actually start to care about their electricity bill...

Total votes: 12

Technically, Assen is still on the last Saturday in June. It's just that the race is on Sunday...

Total votes: 15

3 flyaways in 2015 were enough to make VR lose his mind. How good is he going to feel with 4. My prediction, this winter he announces 2018 is his last.

Total votes: 20

OK, I need a bit of help from the MM community deciding which race to attend next year.

Looking at the schedule, the races I could make are Catalunya, Le Mans, Assen, Salzburg and (likely) Aragon.

I've never been to any of these tracks - in fact that's one of the criteria I've been using to pick the next event.

If you could only choose one, which one of these races would you go to? 

I'd like a track that offers good viewing angles, with prices that don't break the bank, some decent facilities, and good access via public transportation from a large town / city. 

For example I remember that David wrote an article like 5 years ago, explaining why LeMans sucked for spectators due to the crappy facilities. I was curious as to whether the situation had improved in the meantime.

Thanks in advance.

Total votes: 5

Easy to get to (train from central Barcelona, easy walk from the station at Granollers), great weather and tickets weren't that expensive (although it was a few years ago when I went). A great spot is on the inside of T7 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circuit_de_Barcelona-Catalunya#/media/File...). If you can secure a good spot you can see the riders max out on the front straight and hit the brakes, then come down from T6, through 7 and 8 and accelerate up the hill.

Total votes: 6

My only questions of the Buri Ram round are access (very small airport) and not alot of accommodation,having a round of WSBK is totally different to a Motogp event,do they plan on enticing foreign visitors to attend or is it only catering to the local Thai people?

Total votes: 0