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WEC Preview: Qatar 1812 Km

Written by Evan Veer, Edited by Ineke Lavers

Credit: Porsche Newsroom

The Lusail International Circuit makes its debut on the World Endurance Championship calendar this weekend with a heavily changed 37 car grid. The Qatari track is notorious for being tough on tyres due to its many medium to high speed corners, and after last week’s prologue it has already become clear that tyre wear will be a dominating factor in terms of strategy.

The race length has been set at a distance of about 1812 kilometers (335 laps) in reference to Qatar’s national holiday on the 18th of December. As seen during last season’s round at Sebring, the checkered flag will be brought out after ten hours of racing if the lap count has not been completed prior. 

The Hypercar class will see a number of new faces in Qatar, as Alpine, Lamborghini, and Isotta Fraschini will each be making their racing debuts with brand new cars while BMW takes its LMDh prototype across the pond for the WEC after having already competed in IMSA last year. 

It’s not all sunshine and roses however, as both of last season’s non-hybrid entries are absent from the entry list; Glickenhaus officially abandoned its Hypercar programme and Vanwall’s entry was controversially denied due to a lack of space on the full-season grid. 

Credit: Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe

Despite an underwhelming prologue, Toyota will be out to prove once again that it deserves to be at the top. However, pressure from the increasingly strong competition keeps building — especially now that their closest rivals at Ferrari have an advantage in numbers with a privately entered third car. 

Porsche too should not be discounted with a grand total of five cars in the mix, while the Penske factory team comes in fresh from an impressive victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona.

Beyond the Hypercar class, the grid structure has been overhauled as GTE AM makes way for LMGT3 while LMP2 has entirely disappeared from the full season entry list.

This change has made space for growth in both the Hypercar and GT ranks, while the switch to GT3 machinery has brought in a wealth of diversity with a total of nine manufacturers fielding two cars each. 

All of last year’s GTE manufacturers have returned with new machinery, while BMW, Ford, Lamborghini, Lexus, and McLaren are coming in fresh. However, each of their respective partners have already built up an impressive track record in the series, with the exception of Lexus’ new partnership with ASP. 

Although it is officially listed as a Pro-Am class, the strength of competition comes closer to what you would find in a full factory class; this close competition makes it near impossible to predict who will come out on top come Saturday. In any case, those with the most familiarity around their cars and the series as a whole should have a leg up on their more inexperienced peers.


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