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WEC grid airfreighted back from Qatar to Europe to avoid Imola delay

The entire World Endurance Championship grid is being airfreighted back from last weekend’s 2024 curtain-raiser in Qatar to ensure round two at Imola in April goes ahead as planned.

#50 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina, Nicklas Nielsen, leads at the start

Photo by: Shameem Fahath

According to a statement from the WEC organisation, sending cars and equipment by air rather than by sea as originally intended was the only way to ensure that the field would be in place in Europe “on time” for the Imola 6 Hours on 21 April.

The decision follows the outbound freight on a ship specially-chartered by the WEC organisation arriving late in the Middle East, which forced the postponement of the pre-season Prologue test on the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.

It was pushed back from the weekend ahead of last Saturday’s Qatar 1812Km to the Monday and Tuesday of race week.

A similar delay caused by what the WEC called “the geopolitical situation in the Red Sea” — a reference the attacks by Houti rebels on international shipping — would have put the Imola race under threat of cancellation.

The statement from the WEC read: “Due to the ongoing geopolitical situation in the Red Sea, it was concluded that the safest option was for the teams freight to return by air rather than by sea.

“This was the only viable solution which would guarantee the safety of the WEC’s freight, as well as everything arriving on time for Imola.”

The WEC's statement included the acknowledgment that the “change in logistics has added a cost implication for both the teams and the championship organisers”.

It is understood that the cost of the airfreight will be have to be covered by the teams. One competitor put the bill it is facing at in excess of £250,000.

WEC Grid

WEC Grid

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

The airfreight is expected to arrive in Europe this week and next.

Teams taking part in a test at Imola starting on Sunday are expected to receive their equipment first.

The WEC cars arrived in Qatar by a mixture of sea and airfreight: the Ganassi-run Cadillac Racing squad was the only Hypercar class team to put its car on the boat, while the majority of the LMGT3 cars took that option.

All teams had equipment on the outbound charter ship.

The dangers posed to shipping off the coast of Yemen by the Houti rebels forced the WEC freight to be unloaded in Jeddah after traveling through the Suez Canal.

It was then trucked across Saudi Arabia to Qatar.

 

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