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.

Losail International Circuit

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.

Related video

Previous article The sportscar champion eyeing a reset after his "toughest year" to date
Next article Glickenhaus commits to 2023 WEC Hypercar programme