The monent of truth as the world's fastest riders on the world's fastest motorcycles head into the first turn of a Grand Prix. File photo: Jon Nazca / Reuters

Mies, Switzerland - The 2019 Moto Grand Prix season will start in Qatar on March 10 and run through to Valencia on 17 November.

According to the official calendar released on Tuesday, the 19 venues on the agenda are the same as on the 2018 programme and will be raced in the same order. The riders will move from Qatar to Argentina and on to the Ciruit of the Americas in Houston, Texas, before returing to Spain for the first of the 'classic' European Grands Prix at Jerez.

There will be another 'flyaway' series at the end of the year at Buriram in Thailand, Motegi in Japan, Phillip Island in Australia and Sepang in Malaysia before the traditional season finale at Valencia in Spain.

Only two countries have more than one Grand Prix: Italy will host MotoGP at Mugello on 2 June and Misano (the San Marino Grand Prix) on 15 September, while Spain, the home country of series promoter Dorna, will host the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez on 5 May, the Catalan Grand Prix at Catalunya on 16 June, the Aragon Grand Prix at Motorland Aragon on 22 September and, of course, the Valencia Grand Prix on 17 November.

MotoGP 2019 Calendar:

10 March - Qatar GP at Losail

31 March - Argentine GP at Rio Hondo

14 April - United States GP at Austin

5 May - Spanish GP at Jerez de la Frontera 

19 May - French GP at Le Mans 

2 June - Italian GP at Mugello

16 June - Catalan GP at Barcelona

30 June - Dutch TT at Assen

7 July - German GP at Sachsenring 

4 August - Czech GP at Brno

11 August - Austrian GP at Spielberg

25 August - British GP at Silverstone

15 September - San Marino GP at Misano

22 September - Aragon GP at Aragon Motorland

6 October - Thai GP at Buriram

20 October - Japanese GP at Motegi

27 October - Australian GP at Phillip Island

3 November - Malaysian GP at Sepang

17 November - Valencia GP at Valencia

The Motorcycle World Championship has been contested each year since 1949, thus predating Formula one by a year; 2019 will be the 71st running of the series. Originally accommodating six classes - 50cc, 125cc, 250cc, 350cc, 500cc and Sidecar, it was gradually reduced to three categories - 125cc, 250cc and 500cc - which were dominated by two-stroke machines, each with a powerband "as wide as the cock on a chocolate mouse", according to 1976 and 1977 500cc champion Barry Sheene, and fiendishly difficult to ride.

At the end of the century the by-now politically incorrect two-strokes were phased out in favour of four-stroke classes. For 2019 the premier MotoGP category will be open to four-stroke prototype motorcycles with a maximum capacity of 1000cc, no more than four cylinders and a maximum bore of 81mm to limit peak revs, all running the same Magneti Marelli ECU.

The intermediate Moto2 category will be contested by prototype chassis, all powered by identical 765cc Triumph three-cyclinder engines, while the Junior Moto3 category remains a true Grand Prix class, with no restrictions other than that the engine shall be a single-cylinder four-stroke of no more than 250cc capacity - which, incidentally, makes them much more expensive to build and to run than the Moto2 machines with their production-derived engines.

Agence France-Presse



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