When Belgian rider Xavier Simeon was signed to race for the Avintia Ducati team at the Aragon GP last weekend, the grid for the 2018 MotoGP world championship was finalised, even if rumours persist of British rider Bradley Smith’s place at KTM being under threat.
Simeon’s appointment means that he will be the first Belgian racer to compete in the premier racing class in 17 years, while championship organisers have also released the calendar for 2018, although the venue for the British round, to be held on 26 August, is still up in the air.
The rights to host the British Grand Prix had previously been held by the ambitious Circuit of Wales project, who used Silverstone to host the race while their own venue was being finalised, but with the Welsh plan now dead in the water, negotiations are on going as to where the race will be held.
With the experience and infrastructure in place, Silverstone would appear to be the front runners to host the event, however it is understood that Donington Park is also keen to run the showcase event. The Leicestershire venue previously played host to the GP from 1987 to 2009, when it switched to Silverstone. Day to day running of Donington switched to Jonathan Palmer’s MSV company earlier this year and, although the circuit is thought to need further investment to bring it up to MotoGP standard, it is thought that they are bidding to take back the event.
Wherever the race is held, there will be at least two British riders lining up on the grid, with Cal Crutchlow and Scott Redding both confirmed starters in next year’s championship. KTM rider Smith is under contract to race with the Austrian brand again in 2018 but with Finnish test rider Mika Kallio again outperforming the Brit as a wildcard at the weekend (finishing 11th to the Brit’s 19th), paddock rumours suggest that team bosses will switch their roles for 2018.
While KTM Racing boss Pit Beirer told BT Sport that it would be ‘very difficult’ to switch the pair, Kallio said that the Aragon race was the most important his career.
Assuming that Smith retains his ride next year, the full grid for 2018 is as follows:
Marc VDS Honda
Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Red Bull KTM
The 2018 calendar will be:
|1||QATAR GP||Losail International Circuit||18th MARCH|
|2||ARGENTINA GP||Termas de Rio Hondo||08th APRIL|
|3||AMERICAS GP||Circuit of the Americas||22nd APRIL|
|4||SPANISH GP||Circuito de Jerez||06th MAY|
|5||FRENCH GP||Le Mans||20th MAY|
|6||ITALIAN GP||Autodromo di Mugello||03rd JUNE|
|7||CATALUNYA GP||Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya||17th JUNE|
|8||DUTCH GP||TT Circuit Assen||01st JULY|
|9||GERMAN GP||Sachsenring||15th JULY|
|10||CZECH GP||Automotodrom Brno||05th AUGUST|
|11||AUSTRIAN GP||Red Bull Ring – Spielberg||12th AUGUST|
|12||BRITISH GP||Circuit to be announced||26th AUGUST|
|13||SAN MARINO GP||Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli||09th SEPTEMBER|
|14||ARAGON GP||MotorLand Aragon||23rd SEPTEMBER|
|15||THAI GP||Chang International Circuit||07th OCTOBER|
|16||JAPANESE GP||Twin Ring Motegi||21st OCTOBER|
|17||AUSTRALIAN GP||Phillip Island Circuit||28th OCTOBER|
|18||MALAYSIAN GP||Sepang International Circuit||04th NOVEMBER|
|19||VALENCIA GP||Circuit Ricardo Tormo||18th NOVEMBER|