MotoGP will expand its calendar next year after series owners Dorna Sports officially signed a three-year deal with the Buriram Circuit in Thailand.
Thailand has been long rumoured to be joining the schedule, with it originally thought a race in the country would take place this year. However, issues with sponsorship halted this.
Confrimed on Monday, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta officially agreed a deal with the Buriram track to bring MotoGP to Thailand from next year in a ceremony in the country’s capital city of Bangkok today.
“Today the Sports Authority of Thailand and Dorna Sports signed the contract for the Grand Prix of Thailand to be at the circuit in Buriram from 2018 to 2020,” said Ezpeleta.
“Thailand is a big consumer of bikes also and they are happy to use MotoGP to develop tourism here in Thailand.
“We are very proud to have made this agreement with the Thai government. The races here so far have been Superbike – who will also renew the contract in the near future – and we that there’s a lot of expectation.
“MotoGP has had a lot of interest in Thailand, and it’s sure to be a Grand Prix with a lot of interest from everyone.”
Constructed in 2014, the 2.8-mile Buriram Circuit has hosted a round of the World Superbike Championship since 2015, and is regularly one of the series’ highest attended events of the year.
Thailand is set to take place in the latter part of the season, with the traditional triple-header flyaway events in Japan, Australia and Malaysia split into two sets of back-to-back races.
“We need to fix some dates, but the calendar is finished and I hope we can soon announce a draft calendar for 2018,” Ezpeleta added.
As part of a revised winter testing schedule, MotoGP will test at the Thai circuit in February.
The 2018 calendar will be the longest in MotoGP history, with 19 races scheduled. The inclusion of Finland in 2020 will bring that total up to 20, which many riders believe is the maximum number of races manageable in a season.
“I think 20 is the limit,” Honda rider Marc Marquez said on the subject earlier in the season.
“18 races is quite a lot already, 20 races will be two more. But then you need to manage well the testing and the racing.
“For example, Formula 1 has a lot of races but less testing; they test on a simulator, but we cannot do something like this.
“Two more races, on my side, we can accept but more than 20 will too much.”