With the usual caveats in place at this stage of planning, the WorldSBK championship in 2019 should be held over 14 rounds and there are even plans for one or two races to be fitted into the overlong nine-week summer break that has adversely affected the championship’s visibility at a crucial time of season recently.
The next campaign will start as usual on the last weekend in February, at Phillip Island in Australia, and will finish at the end of October, in Qatar.
Round two in Chang, Thailand, should be a week closer to the opener next year, with two weekends free between them. The first European round at Motorland Aragon will come along three weekends after Thailand. The Assen race, round four, may be just one weekend after Motorland as it was in 2018, to avoid the Easter weekend and national holidays in The Netherlands. Imola should form the fifth round.
There should also be a return of Kyalami to the fold. The undulating circuit, located close to Johannesburg in South Africa, is an old WorldSBK hunting ground, last used in the 2010 season. The track has had substantial expenditure put into it recently, and has been widened and lengthened.
The Brno WorldSBK event in 2018 was a one-year deal only and the regular MotoGP circuit could not see a way to make it work for WorldSBK in the future. So, Jerez in Spain should come into the mix again, but probably at an earlier date on the calendar than its most recent Autumnal WorldSBK appearances
Despite the recent pessimism about Donington, a change of date to a more summery slot – sometime in July seems best – should see that important British weekend back on again. No Lake Torrent round in 2019, according to reports from Northern Ireland, but 2020 should be doable. They have a contract already, after all.
Many tracks have given feedback that they need a more climactic Sunday to sell to prospective and existing fans, so we should see a change in the bias of race action and build up to Sundays. Three headline races on a weekend are possible, with two on Sunday of course, but maybe not at all rounds.
As always, until the FIM declares the final calendar itself we await the final conformation of the 2019 venues and dates – but the probable running order of races is as follows:
R1 Phillip Island, Australia
R2 Chang, Thailand
R3 Motorland Aragon, Spain.
R4 Assen, Netherlands
R5 Imola, Italy
R6 Jerez, Spain
R7 Laguna Seca, USA
R8 Misano, Riviera di Rimini
R9 Donington Park, UK
R10 Kyalami, South Africa
R11 Portimao, Portugal
R12 Magny Cours, France
R13 El Villicum, Argentina
R14 Doha, Qatar