THAILAND will host MotoGP – the motorcycling equivalent of Formula One – for the first time next year, following confirmation of a deal for Buriram to stage the race for three years.
The provincial city, home to the 100,000-capacity F1-certified Chang International Circuit, already stages Super GT and Superbike World Championship races.
The track has previously staged World Touring Cars Championship and Porsche Carrera Cup Asia races.
The Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) has officially signed a deal with MotoGP owners Dorna Sports to hold the race from 2018, according to a statement released by the SAT.
“Signing this contract makes Thailand one of the 19 venues for MotoGP racing… it is provisionally set for first weekend of October next year,” the statement said.
Winter testing is due to take place from February-18.
The city of Buriram in the poor rice-farming northeast of Thailand has seen signifiant investment in sports and hotel facilities in recent years.
The financing and building of the Chang International Circuit – also known as Buriram United International Circuit – was possible thanks to political veteran Newin Chidchob.
The 58-year-old, who served under Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, pulled in rich contacts to build the US$58.9 million track in his hometown.
The MotoGP event could pour millions of dollars into Buriram, a huge sum for a province that was once among Thailand’s poorest.
The track will be the first all-new addition to the MotoGP series since Argentina’s Termas de Rio Hondo in 2014.
Japan and Malaysia are also contracted to host MotoGP rounds in 2018.