After signing long-term deals with Formula One and MotoGP in the recent past, Qatar has added another exciting motorsport event to its kitty. From 2024, the Lusail International Circuit will stage the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile) World Endurance Championship for the next six years.
The inaugural 6 Hours of Qatar endurance race is also set to be the season-opening event of the 2024 FIA WEC. Lusail International Circuit, which has been home to MotoGP for several years and hosted Formula 1 for the first time last year, is undergoing extensive renovation and remodeling to the paddock area and facilities with the latest renderings revealed at the announcement ceremony. The WEC’s official pre-season test, more commonly known as The Prologue, will take place in Qatar preceding the race.
The announcement was made Monday in a glittering ceremony, which was attended by HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdul Aziz al-Thani. Also present were Minister of Sports and Youth HE Salah bin Ghanim al-Ali, Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Airways Group – the event’s sponsor – and Chairman of Qatar Tourism HE Akbar al-Baker and President of Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) Abdulrahman bin Abdullatif al-Mannai.
The representatives of the FIA WEC including ACO President Pierre Fillon, FIA Endurance Commission President Richard Mille, FIA WEC CEO Frederic Lequien, as well as top FIA WEC drivers such as Kamui Kobayashi (Toyota), Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche) and Alessandro Pier Guidi (Ferrari) all attended the event.
Since the WEC’s inception back in 2012, Qatar will be the 13th country to host the championship as the series continues its mission to promote endurance racing and the spirit of Le Mans to new regions and territories across the globe.
Also present in Doha were four Hypercars from renowned endurance racing manufacturers that will race in the WEC’s headline category in 2024: the Ferrari 499P, the Peugeot 9x8, the Porsche 963 and Toyota’s GR010 HYBRID Hypercar.
It marked the first time these four Hypercars have been seen together, with the 6 Hours of Qatar set to be a defining moment in endurance racing history as all four manufacturers will go head-to-head in the WEC’s increasingly-popular Hypercar category which now has a minimum of eight manufacturers committed for 2024.
More details about the 6 Hours of Qatar race will be revealed in due course. The event’s date, along with the complete 2024 FIA WEC calendar, will be submitted for approval to FIA World Motor Sport Council, the decision-making body responsible for international four-wheel motorsport, next year.
HE Akbar al-Baker, Qatar Airways Group CEO and The Chairman of Qatar Tourism, said hosting the World Endurance Championship is of great significance to Qatar.
“We are excited to see another premier motorsport category coming to Qatar in 2024. We want to achieve something which is of great interest to the world. Everything in Qatar starts with a humble beginning. We are very keen to host an endurance race after having hosted the F1 in 2021. This will make Qatar the centre of racing after we became the centre of football,” he said.
QMMF president Abdulrahman bin al-Mannai said: “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. Qatar is immensely honoured to host the opening round of WEC in 2024. Undoubtedly, hosting this much-anticipated edition of WEC is yet another major milestone and another Qatari dream fulfilled,” he added.
HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdul Aziz al-Thani, Minister of Sports and Youth HE Salah bin Ghanim al-Ali, Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Airways Group HE Akbar al-Baker and President of Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation Abdulrahman bin Abdullatif al-Mannai at the ceremony.