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Moto GP circuits
The first MotoGP race (then known as the 500cc class) was staged on the Mountain circuit at the Isle of Man TT in 1949. While open-road circuits such as the TT have since dropped off the GP calendar, one venue remains and that is the Assen circuit in the Netherlands, home of the Dutch TT race. More recent additions to the calendar include Losail in Qatar, Sepang in Malaysia and, new for 2018, the Chang circuit in Thailand, reflecting a move towards involving Middle East and Asian countries in the sport.
Traditional circuits such Mugello in Italy, Jerez in Spain and Misano in San Marino remain firmly on the race calendar though, reflecting the sport’s roots and its powerful fan base in Europe. Staging four races in Spain owes a lot to it being the home of MotoGP rights holders Dorna.
The 2018 MotoGP season starts with the Qatar GP in March and ends at Valencia in Spain – one of four visits to that country – in November. The 2018 calendar features 19 races on six continents. Here you’ll find the MotoGP timetable and some interesting facts and figures about each GP circuit.
MotoGP race calendar 2018
Grand Prix dates and circuits GMT Time
March 18: Qatar (Losail), 4pm GMT
April 8: Argentina (Rio Hondo), 7pm
April 22: United States (Americas), 8pm
May 6: Spain (Jerez), 1pm
May 20: France (Le Mans), 1pm
June 3: Italy (Mugello), 1pm
June 17: Spain (Barcelona-Catalunya), 1pm
July 1: Netherlands (Assen), 12pm
July 15: Germany (Sachsenring), 1pm
August 5: Czech Republic (Brno), 1pm
August 12: Austria (Red Bull Ring), 1pm
August 26: Great Britain (Silverstone), 3pm
September 9: San Marino (Misano), 1pm
September 23: Spain (Aragon), 1pm
October 7: Thailand (Chang), 8am
October 21: Japan (Motegi), 6am
October 28: Australia (Phillip Island), 3am
November 4 – Malaysia (Sepang) 06:00
November 18 – Spain (Valencia) 13:00
Losail International Circuit
Venue for the Qatar Grand Prix, March 18
The Losail circuit was specifically built to stage MotoGP racing just 30 kilometres outside the country’s capital city of Doha. It has staged the opening race of the season since 2007 and features 16 corners, with 10 right turns and six left turns. Despite being in the desert, dust is not normally a problem due to artificial grass on the outside of the circuit. The 5.4km track features a main straight of over a kilometre in length.
What makes the Qatar Grand Prix special?
A local start time of 7pm means riders have to contend with the unusual situation of racing under floodlights. That makes it one of the most spectacular venues on the race calendar, having staged its first race in 2004 and the inaugural event under lights in 2008.
Termas de Rio Hondo
Venue for the Argentinian Grand Prix, April 8
With just 14 corners in total, the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit is one of the least technical on the MotoGP betting calendar. At 4.8km in length and with a longest straight at over one kilometre, riders will look to reach top speeds in excess of 330kmh with a lap average speed of 172.6kmh. The circuit underwent a rebuild in 2012, based on a design by the Italian circuit designer Jarno Zaffelli.
What makes the Argentinian Grand Prix special?
Argentina first staged a motorcycle grand prix in 1961 but there had been a 15-year-gap before the MotoGP series returned to the country in 2014 at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in the picturesque northern province of Santiago del Estero.
Circuit of the Americas
Venue for the United States Grand Prix, April 22
The best thing about employing renowned circuit designer Hermann Tilke is you know he will come up with something special. It has an elevation change of 41 metres with an uphill at the end of the home straight followed by a sharp left. Tilke has borrowed sections from many famous tracks and the 5.513km layout follows an anti-clockwise route, meaning there are 11 left corners and nine right.
What makes the United States Grand Prix special?
The Circuit of the Americas near Austin in Texas had some big reputations to honour when it became the home of the United States Grand Prix in 2013. In the country where big is beautiful, a capacity for 120,000 fans certainly set the right standard for a racetrack taking over from the likes of Daytona, Laguna Seca and Indianapolis. The circuit has quickly established itself as a fitting arena, even if the United States lacks a current rider in the mould of former champions Kenny Roberts or Kevin Schwantz.
Circuito de Jerez
Venue for the Spanish Grand Prix, May 6
The 4.4km circuit has seen some of the most famous races in MotoGP history, with nine-times world champion Valentino Rossi building his reputation on numerous final-corner battles. Several of the corners – five left and eight right – are named after famous Spanish racers of past and present such as Sito Pons, Jorge Martinez Aspar, Angel Nieto, Alex Criville and the infamous turn 13 which bears the name of Jorge Lorenzo.
What makes the Spanish Grand Prix special?
If you are one of the 250,000 spectators queuing to get into, or out of, the Jerez circuit perhaps it loses something of its appeal. But once inside there is no doubting the unique atmosphere at one of the most popular events on the calendar. Jerez is used regularly as a test venue by all of the race teams, giving visitors another reason to flock to an area well known for its climate and as the sherry capital of Spain.
Bugati Circuit, Le Mans
Venue for the French Grand Prix, May 20
Originally built in 1965, the circuit dropped off the MotoGP calendar in 1995 following a serious accident to Spanish rider Alberto Puig and only returned in 2000 after safety improvements had been carried out. The current layout features only five left corners and nine right over its 4.2km length, with a relatively short 674m as its longest straight.
What makes the French Grand Prix special?
France has a long and proud motor sport history even though the name Le Mans is more closely connected with four wheel than two-wheel racing. Following a barren spell of top French names to cheer on, home fans have revelled in the success of twice Moto2 world champion Johann Zarco who is now making his name in the MotoGP class.
Venue for the Italian Grand Prix, June 3
Mugello hosted its first MotoGP race in 1976 but it was not until Ferrari bought the circuit in 1988 that it became a permanent fixture on the calendar in 1991. One of the most technical circuits in the series, the 5.2km track features a mixture of both slow and fast turns – six left and nine right – off-camber corners and a start and finish straight 1.141km in length. The circuit will be lined by boisterous and passionate fans on race day, most of them wearing the yellow of Rossi.
What makes the Italian Grand Prix special?
Set in the rolling Tuscan hills a short drive north of the renaissance city of Florence, there are many attractions to Mugello outside motorcycle racing. In a country where Rossi is a sporting king – he earned more per year than footballer David Beckham when he was at AC Milan – motorcycle racers are treated like gods. Add in the fact that Italian manufacturers Ducati and Aprilia have MotoGP race teams then the Italian Grand Prix is a must see.
Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya
Venue for the Catalan Grand Prix, June 17
Situated just 25km to the north of Barcelona, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is regarded as one of the best designed of more recent times, having staged a MotoGP race every year since 1991. One of the home races for such stars as Marc Marquez, Maverick Vinales and Dani Pedrosa, the 4.7km track features five left turns and eight right and a start and finish straight at just over a kilometre long.
What makes the Catalan Grand Prix so special?
With a place on the calendar in the middle of June, this race makes the most of Barcelona’s reputation as a must-see destination. With the fiercely partisan Catalan crowd, race day can take on a life all of its own and with Barcelona a short drive away, the celebrations can be long and loud. Culture vultures can also visit the cities of Girona, Reus and Tarragona to immerse themselves further in the Catalan culture.
Venue for the Netherlands Grand Prix, July 1
Assen is one of the longest circuits on the calendar at 4.5km, having been cut down from the previous 6km in 2006. Known as ‘The Cathedral’ of motorcycle racing, it has been on the championship calendar since 1949. In 1955 the race moved from public roads to a purpose-built race circuit, with its rapid changes in direction – six left corners and 12 right – making it popular with racers and fans alike.
What makes the Netherlands Grand Prix so special?
The Cathedral always attracts a large and rowdy crowd and is particularly popular with fans from the UK and Germany. The carnival atmosphere has helped turned the grand prix into an annual festival of motor sport as Assen has become one of the races all fans must experience, with many including a visit to the capital city of Amsterdam to add to the experience.
Venue for the German Grand Prix, July 15
There have been races on public roads in the area around the city of Chemnitz since the 1920s but a purpose-built 3.7km circuit was finished in 1996. Mainly used as a driver training centre and road transport safety station, the narrow 12m wide, 700m long main straight and numerous tight corners, among the 10 left and three rights turns, make for close racing.
What makes the German Grand Prix so special?
German race fans are amongst the most fanatical in the world and help to make Chemnitz, which was formerly behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War before the country’s reunification, a welcoming place to visit. Situated in the picturesque region of Saxony, there is much for visitors to see. At the circuit itself, a spectacular downhill right-hand turn nicknamed ‘The Waterfall’ is popular with spectators and gives riders plenty to think about too.
Venue for the Czech Republic Grand Prix, August 5
Motorcycle grand prix racing has been held at Brno since the 1930s, although the 13km circuit on closed public roads stopped being used in the 1980s in favour of a purpose-built 5.4km circuit where constant elevation changes in its forested hillside layout test rider and machine to the limit. With a 636m longest straight and 14 corners – six left and eight right – close racing is the norm.
What makes the Czech Grand Prix so special?
Brno has become a holiday destination, in part by the thousands of Europeans who flock to the city for MotoGP. The circuit is built in a natural bowl and offers spectators a view which is second to none. It is popular with riders who enjoy testing themselves on its layout, the close racing adding to the experience for race fans.
Red Bull Ring
Venue for the Austrian Grand Prix, August 12
First built in 1969 as the Osterreichring and more recently the A1 Ring, the name was changed to the Red Bull Ring in 2011 because of the financial involvement of the energy drink manufacturer. The 4.3km circuit features relatively few turns – three left and seven right – and a longest straight of 626m, meaning it is suited for bikes with good top end speed.
What makes the Austrian Grand Prix so special?
The Red Bull Ring is set in the plush green countryside near the city of Spielberg, roughly an hour’s drive from Graz. The circuit’s sloping terrain and the fact it is a natural arena add to the enjoyment for the spectators. An architectural feature is the 18 metre high ‘Bull of Spielberg’, a metalwork bull with a steel arch weighing a combined 68 tons.
Venue for the British Grand Prix, August 26
Silverstone is known around the world as the home of the Formula One British Grand Prix but its motorcycle equivalent is no less spectacular. The venue has benefited from a multi-million pound investment, including the Silverstone Wing main complex. On track, the layout of the lengthy 5.9km circuit features a longest straight of 770m with 18 corners – eight left and 10 right – producing numerous overtaking opportunities.
What makes the British Grand Prix so special?
Great Britian has been the home of many top motorcycle racers – including Mike Hailwood, John Surtees and Barry Sheene – and Silverstone has a special place in that history. From 1949 the Isle of Man TT hosted the British GP, followed by Silverstone from 1977, and Donington Park from 1988, before the grand prix returned to its present Northamptonshire home in 2009. The British fans always ensure a rowdy atmosphere to match the spectacular racing.
Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli
Venue for the San Marino Grand Prix, September 9
Situated close to the city of Rimini, the circuit bears the name of the late Marco Simoncelli who was born locally and killed during a MotoGP race in 2011. Misano returned to the world championship calendar in 2007 having been regularly used in the 1980s and early ’90s. The 4.2km circuit has six left corners and 10 right and features a longest straight of 530m, lending itself to close racing.
What makes the San Marino Grand Prix so special?
With a relatively low capacity of 60,000, what the grand prix lacks in numbers it makes up for in atmosphere because of the partisan Italian fans. The fact that Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso grew up in the region and that Italian manufacturers Ducati and Aprilia contest the championship only adds to the excitement which builds around the race. With the seaside resort of Rimini close by, San Marino is on the race calendar of many MotoGP fans.
Venue for the Aragon Grand Prix, September 23
The purpose-built circuit joined the likes of Jerez, Catalunya and Valencia in 2010 by becoming a MotoGP venue. Another Tilke-designed circuit, the 5.1km length features a longest straight of nearly 1km and 10 left and seven right corners, its layout ensuring close battles in the first half of the lap and flat out racing in the second. Between 1963 and 2003 the nearby town of Alcaniz hosted street races.
What makes the Aragon Grand Prix so special?
When it staged its first grand prix race in 2010 the new circuit was so well received by riders it became the first debut venue to be awarded the Best Grand Prix of the Year award from the Independent Race Teams Association. Built with the support of local institutions, the circuit gives motorcycle-mad Spanish fans one of their four chances each year to see former champion Lorenzo and current title holder Marquez in action.
Chang International Circuit
Venue of the Thai Grand Prix, October 7
German arthitect Tilke was called on to design a venue which makes its MotoGP debut this season and has also staged World Superbike Championship races since 2015. The 4.6km circuit only has 12 corners – seven left and five right – and with a 1km longest straight lends itself to those teams who can get the most out of their engines. The pre-season test at the venue will give some clues but nobody will really know what to expect before race day.
What makes the Thailand Grand Prix so special?
MotoGP makes its first visit to the Chang International Circuit in 2018 and with a capacity of 100,000 and a spectator-friendly layout, it has the potential to be a spectacular event. Chang is located close to the town of Buriram, which translates as ‘city of happiness’, and is 410km north-east of the capital city Bangkok.
Twin Ring Mogtegi
Venue for the Japanese Grand Prix, October 21
Japan is the spiritual home of MotoGP with dominant manufacturers Honda and Yamaha hailing from the country. Motegi has been a permanent fixture on the calendar since it first hosted a race in 1999. The 4.8km circuit features a 762m longest straight, which is downhill and followed by a 90-degree right corner. There are 14 turns in total – six left and eight right.
What makes the Japanese Grand Prix so special?
Built by Honda in the northern district of Kanto, Motegi is the ultimate test venue and also hosts the fanatical Japanese fans, most of whom follow the fortunes of multiple world champion Rossi. Motegi is also the venue of the Honda Collection Hall, a museum of motorcycles, cars and racing machines. The Motegi complex also features a dirt track, go-karts, hotel, restaurant, shops and event halls and employs 300 staff, adding to the experience for race fans.
Venue for the Australian Grand Prix, October 28
Phillip Island has a reputation for providing some of the most spectacular racing in the MotoGP season and has been a permanent fixture on the race calendar since 1997. The 4.4km track length has a longest straight of 900m and just 12 corners, seven left and five right. Occasionally riders have had collisions with low-flying seagulls at the coastal venue, with heavy winds also adding to the perils facing man and machine.
What makes the Australian Grand Prix so special?
As the home race of such MotoGP legends as Wayne Gardner, Mick Doohan and Casey Stoner, Phillip Island lives up to the rich heritage of motor sport in Australia. Visiting fans are always assured of a warm welcome in a motor sport-mad country and the venue itself is just 140km south east of Melbourne, making it within easy reach of one of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations.
Sepang International Circuit
Venue for the Malaysian Grand Prix, November 4
Tilke’s design lends itself to overtaking with riders battling over two long straights and 10 medium to high-speed corners so there is plenty of full-throttle action. Since its debut in 1999, Sepang has set the standard for MotoGP circuits worldwide. The track width of 16m, a longest straight of 920m, five left and 10 right corners and one of the longest lap distances of 5.5km add to the potential for overtaking.
Why is the Malaysian Grand Prix so special?
Right from day one the Sepang circuit has rightfully earned a reputation as one of the top MotoGP venues on the race calendar. Heat and humidity make the race an uncomfortable one for riders and fans alike but the venue makes up for that with its 2,300-acre complex housing a hotel, shopping centre, golf course and other sports facilities. Sepang is situated 50km south of the capital Kuala Lumpur.
Circuit Ricardo Tormo
Venue for the Valenciana Grand Prix, November 18
A short lap of 4km, with its nine left corners and five right and a longest straight of 876m, mean the MotoGP track layout – one of several at the venue – is regarded as quite small. With the world title usually on the line, the racing at Valencia is normally fast-paced and frantic. The circuit has corners bearing the names of Jorge Martinez Aspar and Angel Nieto, both synonymous with the rich heritage of motorcycle racing in Spain.
Why is the Valenciana Grand Prix so special?
The relatively tight layout of the circuit is housed within grandstands from which up to 150,000 spectators can see the whole track and that only adds to the atmosphere. Being the last race of the season means Valencia has a special place on the calendar and usually finds most riders in a good mood. Spanish fans usually have something to cheer about with the likes of Marquez and Lorenzo in the thick of the title battle.
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