Qatar will host a leg of the MotoGP series next year, according to the provisional 2004 calendar, but the Japanese GP must still be confirmed due to safety concerns.

Qatar will host a leg of the MotoGP series next year, according to the provisional 2004 calendar, but the Japanese GP must still be confirmed due to safety concerns.

The races on next year’s calendar have been increased from 16 to 17. But the Suzuka race has a question mark hanging over it following Daijiro Kato's fatal accident at the circuit this year. The season starts earlier than this year and the South African race takes place on April 18.

Like Rio and Assen, Qatar will also be a Saturday race. There are rumours that it could be held in the evening to avoid the high temperatures in the day. Qatar is also likely to host a leg of the World Superbike Championship in 2005.

A race in Birmingham, Alabama, is expected to be added to the 2005 MotoGP calendar.

2004 MotoGP provisional calendar:

April 4 Japan (to be confirmed), Suzuka

April 18 South Africa, Welkom

May 2 Spain, Jerez de la Frontera

May 16 France, Le Mans

May 30 Italy, Mugello

June 13 Catalunya, Barcelona

June 26 Netherlands, Assen

July 11 Britain, Donington Park

July 18 Germany, Sachsenring

July 31 Brazil, Rio de Janeiro

August 22 Czech Republic, Brno

September 5 Portugal, Estoril

September 19 Pacific, Motegi, Japan

October 2 Qatar, Doha

October 10 Malaysia, Sepang

October 17 Australia, Phillip Island

October 31 Valencia, Valencia.

Original article from Car