Qatar takes World Endurance Championship calendar slot for 2024

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

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

No date has been set for the six-hour race, which still needs to be approved by the FIA ​​World Motor Sports Council.

Announced Monday evening in the nation’s capital, Doha, the Qatar fixture will take over Sebring 1000 Miles as WEC curtain lifter after the WEC’s five-year contract to race at the Florida circuit next year expires.

Sebring rejoined the WEC as part of the double-headed weekend in 2019 with the 12-hour race of the IMSA SportsCar Championship, but the 1000 Miles fixture was canceled in both 2020 and ’21 due to COVID before returning this year.

Qatar will be the second Middle East country visited by the WEC, after Bahrain, which has a contract until 2027.

Richard Mille, chairman of the FIA ​​Endurance Commission, said: “The Lusail International Circuit is a modern circuit that has adapted very well to the demands of motorsport events around the world.

“Therefore, his participation in the FIA ​​WEC is a positive and logical development.

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

Aerial view of Losail International Circuit

Abdulrahman bin Abdullatif al-Mannai, chairman 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.

“WEC is widely followed and is now one of the most recognized racing championships worldwide.

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

The 3,343-mile Losail circuit is undergoing extensive refurbishment for 2023, where it will be a regular feature in the F1 program after replacing the Japanese Grand Prix in 2021.

These focus on the pit and paddock facilities rather than the layout of the track, which opened in 2004 and hosts MotoGP races every year except 2020 (and two in 2021).

The Qatari speedway 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 has been reduced to six events for 2021 and 2022 as a result of the financial pressures caused by COVID, and will expand by one more race with the addition of a race at the Algarve circuit next year.

The WEC is known to be determined to stay in North America after its deal with Sebring expired.

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

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

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

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