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:
|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|
|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