Qatar gets World Endurance Championship calendar slot for 2024

A race at the Losail circuit in Qatar will replace Sebring as the opening round of the World Endurance Championship in 2024.

Qatar gets World Endurance Championship calendar slot for 2024

The WEC has signed a six-year contract with the Losail International Circuit to host a round of the championship, guaranteeing its place on the schedule until 2029 at least.

Losail will also be the venue for the official pre-season WEC test known as the prologue ahead of the race.

No date has been given for what will be a six-hour event, which still needs to be ratified by the FIA World Motor Sport Council.

The Qatar fixture, announced in the country's capital Doha on Monday evening, will take over from the Sebring 1000 Miles as the WEC curtain-raiser after the end of the WEC’s five-year contract to race at the Florida circuit next year.

Sebring rejoined the WEC in 2019 as part of double-header weekend with the 12-hour round of the IMSA SportsCar Championship, but the 1000 Miles fixture was cancelled in both 2020 and ’21 as a result of COVID before returning this year.

Qatar will become the second Middle East country visited by the WEC after Bahrain, which has a contract running through to 2027.

Richard Mille, president of the FIA Endurance Commission, said: “Lusail International Circuit is a modern venue that is well accustomed to the demands of world-level motorsport events.

“Therefore, having it join the FIA WEC is a positive and logical development.

“Enhancing regional diversity is something very important to the FIA: promoting motorsport and promoting the FIA WEC in new markets is something that will be beneficial for the fans, the manufacturers involved and the promoter.”

Losail International Circuit aerial view

Losail International Circuit aerial view

Abdulrahman bin Abdullatif al-Mannai, president of the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation, added: “We are proud to have established a solid position in the local, regional and international sports scene.

“The WEC is widely followed and it is currently one of the most globally-recognised racing championships.

“For what the event represents worldwide, Qatar is immensely honoured to host the opening round in the 12th season of WEC in 2024.”

The 3.343-mile Losail circuit is undergoing extensive renovations for 2023 when it will take a regular place on the F1 schedule after coming in as a replacement for the Japanese Grand Prix in 2021.

These are focussed on the pit and paddock facilities rather than the layout of the track, which was opened in 2004 and has hosted a MotoGP round every year (and two in 2021) with the exception of 2020.

The Qatari venue joins the WEC for a season in which the series is scheduled to return to eight races for the first time since the 2019/20 campaign.

The WEC downsized to six events for 2021 and 2022 as a result of the financial pressures caused by COVID and will expand by one race next year with the addition of a race at the Algarve circuit.

It is known that the WEC is committed to remaining in North America after the end of its deal with Sebring.

The reborn WEC kicked off in 2012 as part of the Sebring 12 Hours, then a round of the American Le Mans Series, before moving to Austin the following year.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course is one prospective venue for the WEC in the USA: track owner Roger Penske has ambitions to host a major international enduro at venue.

The former home of the US Grand Prix will host a race to IMSA’s regular sprint duration of two hours and 40 minutes next September, its first time on the schedule since 2014.

shares
comments

Related video

The sportscar champion eyeing a reset after his "toughest year" to date
Previous article

The sportscar champion eyeing a reset after his "toughest year" to date

Next article

Glickenhaus commits to 2023 WEC Hypercar programme

Glickenhaus commits to 2023 WEC Hypercar programme
Why the WEC should make space for modern garagistes in 2023 Plus

Why the WEC should make space for modern garagistes in 2023

OPINION: There is plenty of excitement over the glut of manufacturers tackling the Hypercar class of the World Endurance Championship this season. The selection committee is set to face headaches over who it decides to admit and who gets turned away from the 2023 entry list, but history tells us that the smaller entrants have a place

WEC
Jan 9, 2023
Autosport writers' most memorable moments of 2022 Plus

Autosport writers' most memorable moments of 2022

The season just gone was a memorable one for many of our staff writers, who are fortunate enough to cover motorsport around the world. Here are our picks of the best (and in some cases, most eventful) from 2022

Formula 1
Dec 31, 2022
Is Qatar the price motorsport fans have to pay? Plus

Is Qatar the price motorsport fans have to pay?

OPINION: Fresh from hosting a controversial 2022 football World Cup, Qatar has added its name to the 2024 World Endurance Championship calendar. Although questions may be asked about its presence on the calendar, is it simply the price to pay for having a healthy racing championship?

WEC
Dec 21, 2022
How Toyota defeated Alpine for the 2022 WEC title Plus

How Toyota defeated Alpine for the 2022 WEC title

Toyota #8 trio Brendon Hartley, Sebastien Buemi and Ryo Hirakawa outscored their rivals in the last season before the World Endurance Championship’s top class gets ultra-competitive. Here's how their Hypercar battle with Alpine and the remaining class tussles played out in LMP2, GTE Pro and GTE Am

WEC
Dec 5, 2022
The long road to convergence for sportscar racing's new golden age Plus

The long road to convergence for sportscar racing's new golden age

The organisers of the World Endurance Championship and IMSA SportsCar Championship worked together to devise the popular new LMDh rule set. But to turn it from an idea into reality, some serious compromises were involved - both from the prospective LMDh entrants and those with existing Le Mans Hypercar projects...

IMSA
Nov 25, 2022
How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game Plus

How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game

The 956 set the bar at the dawn of Group C 40 years ago, and that mark only rose higher through the 1980s, both in the world championship and in the US. It and its successor, the longer-wheelbase 962, were voted as Autosport's greatest sportscar in 2020 - here's why

WEC
Aug 25, 2022
Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes Plus

Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes

OPINION: While the focus has been on the exciting prospect of Ferrari vs Porsche at the Le Mans 24 Hours next year, BMW’s factory return to endurance racing should not be ignored. It won't be at the French classic next year as it focuses efforts on the IMSA SportsCar Championship, but could be a dark horse in 2024 when it returns to La Sarthe with the crack WRT squad

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2022
The problem sausage kerbs continue to cause Plus

The problem sausage kerbs continue to cause

Track limits are the problem that motorsport doesn't seem to be able to rid itself of. But the use of so-called 'sausage kerbs' as a deterrent has in several instances only served to worsen the problem, and a growing number of voices want to see action taken

Formula 1
Jul 18, 2022