- 2018 will be the longest season in the history of MotoGP
- Five new riders graduate to the premier class
- DHL remains Official Logistics Partner of MotoGP
The 2017 MotoGP™ season captivated millions of fans around the world with spectacular races, dramatic outcomes and an incredible world championship showdown in the grand finale at Valencia. 2018 is all set to go one better, with more races than ever before and an unprecedented rider lineup that is sure to deliver top-class racing from March through to November.
There’s a new name on the list of 2018 host countries: Thailand. As it enters its 70th season, the FIM Road Racing World Championship is looking forward to staging a Grand Prix in Thailand for the first time, extending the calendar to a record 19 fixtures. This will be a huge challenge for teams, riders and – not least – DHL as official logistics partner to the MotoGP™ series. But challenges are there to be met, so DHL is looking forward to an eventful year as the new season gets underway.
The PTT Thailand Grand Prix will contested at the Buriram International Circuit. During the recent winter testing there, the MotoGP™ paddock got a first impression of the enthusiastic welcome they can expect from the locals. Up to 30,000 fans per day came through the turnstiles to see their heroes on the track, and attendance for the race weekend itself is expected to be around the 300,000 mark. That would be a new MotoGP™ record.
- March 18: Grand Prix of Qatar in Losail
- April 8: Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina in Termas de Rio Hondo
- April 22: Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin
- May 6: Gran Premio Red Bull de España in Jerez
- May 20: HJC Helmets Grand Prix de France
- June 3: Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley in Mugello
- June 17: Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya in Barcelona
- July 1: Motul TT Assen
- July 15: GoPro Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland at the Sachsenring
- August 5: Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky in Brno
- August 12: Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich in Spielberg
- August 26: Octo British Grand Prix in Silverstone
- September 9: Gran Premio Tribul Mastercard di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini in Misano
- September 23: Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón in Alcañiz
- October 7: PTT Thailand Grand Prix in Buriram
- October 21: Motul Grand Prix of Japan in Motegi
- October 28: Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island
- November 4: Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix in Sepang
- November 18: Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana in Valencia
Riders and teams
The 2018 MotoGP™ grid will have 24 riders on full prototypes – more than ever before. In addition to the well-known superstars of the scene such as Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez, five riders will be making their debut in the sport’s premier class.
After claiming the Moto2 world championship title, Franco Morbidelli graduates to MotoGP™. He will be sharing the Marc VDS Racing garage with another rookie: Tom Lüthi, Morbidelli’s main rival in last year’s title fight. The second man on the Belgian team is making his MotoGP™ debut at the ripe old age of 31. The second of the two Honda customer teams, LCR, is also pinning its hopes on a rookie, recruiting Japan’s Takaaki Nakagami to serve alongside the veteran Cal Crutchlow.
The fourth of the handful of rookies secured his place in the 2018 MotoGP™ lineup at the very last minute: Hafizh Syahrin was recruited by Tech3 Yamaha after Jonas Folger dropped out of the running. Syahrin made a great impression during the first test week and was immediately signed for the entire season. The fifth newcomer is Xavier Simeon, who will ride a satellite Ducati entered by Avintia Racing.
Three riders changed employers in the off-season: Pramac rider Scott Redding joined Aprilia and was replaced by Jack Miller, who moved from Marc VDS Racing. Miller’s team-mate of last year, Tito Rabat, was also looking for a new challenge and found it at Avintia Racing.
- Alma Pramac Racing: Danilo Petrucci / Jack Miller
- Angel Nieto Team: Karel Abraham / Alvaro Bautista
- Aprilia Racing Team Gresini: Aleix Espargaro / Scott Redding
- Ducati Team: Andrea Dovizioso / Jorge Lorenzo
- EG 0,0 Marc VDS: Thomas Lüthi / Franco Morbidelli
- LCR Honda: Takaaki Nakagami / Cal Crutchlow
- Monster Yamaha Tech 3: Johann Zarco / Hafizh Syahrin
- Movistar Yamaha MotoGP: Maverick Vinales / Valentino Rossi
- Reale Avintia Racing: Xavier Simeon / Tito Rabat
- Red Bull KTM Factory Racing: Bradley Smith / Pol Espargaro
- Repsol Honda Team: Dani Pedrosa / Marc Marquez
- Team Suzuki Ecstar: Andrea Iannone / Alex Rins
New trophies: In recent years, MotoGP™ has done a lot to make life easier for the satellite teams. The technical regulations have been adjusted to reduce the gap between works riders and privateers. From 2018, the customer teams will also receive more media and sponsor presence. To this end, official trophies will be awarded in future for two additional world championship classes, namely best private rider and best private team. This is over and above the riders’, team and constructors’ titles as well as the Rookie of the Year trophy.
Race distances: Seven MotoGP™ races will be shortened in 2018. The idea behind this is to make the duration of all the grands prix as uniform as possible, which makes scheduling easier on broadcasters. The shortened races are Austin, Le Mans, Barcelona, Brno and Misano (each by one lap), Jerez (by two laps) and the grand finale in Valencia (by three laps).
Wildcards: Manufacturers such as Ducati or KTM have increasingly relied on the use of wildcard contestants in recent years. Their test riders Michele Pirro and Mika Kallio each competed in three races in 2017. In order to prevent a further increase in wildcard deployments, the commissioners have now set a limit of no more than three wildcards per manufacturer per season. The Suzuki, KTM and Aprilia works teams, which have been granted concessions for the 2018 season due to lack of success last year, are permitted to use up to six wild cards.
Airbags: Many riders have been relying on them for years, but starting in 2018 airbag systems in leather suits will be mandatory. These use an algorithm in the control unit to immediately detect if a rider has been thrown from his bike. The air chambers inside inflate within a few thousandths of a second and are designed to protect the rider from serious injury.
Starting in 2019, a new class is coming to the motorcycle world championship. Bikes with electric motors will compete in the FIM MotoE™ World Cup. The grid will feature 18 riders from 11 teams. While seven private teams from MotoGP™ will each enter two riders, the lineup will also include four teams from Moto2 and Moto3, each fielding one rider. Five races are planned as part of the support program to MotoGP™. In order to get the fans fired up for MotoE™, former top rider Loris Capirossi will be performing demo laps on a homologated motorcycle from Italian manufacturer Energica at selected grand prix events throughout 2018.