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Welcome to Qatar: A first look at the track

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The start of the 2024 season in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) brings an exciting refresh of its race venues, with two brand-new events joining the calendar this season.

The first of those, the Lusail International Circuit in Qatar, is the opening round, and will hold that prestigious slot until 2029 as part of a long-term deal which also includes hosting the Prologue. Though it has hosted both Formula 1 and MotoGP for a number of years, 2024 marks WEC’s first visit to the Middle Eastern circuit. Ahead of the weekend, here’s everything you need to know:

About the circuit

The Lusail International Circuit, opened in 2004, will be hosting an FIA WEC race for the first time. The season opener, contested over a maximum of ten hours, will be held under the title Qatar 1812 km (1125 miles) - the number refers to the Qatar National Day on 18 December. The 5.419-kilometre (3367.21 miles) circuit is located north of the capital city of Doha, and has 16 corners, which are predominantly medium and high speed. The start-finish straight, which is over a kilometre long, requires low drag to reach top speed, and heads into the prime spot for overtaking at Turn 1. Downforce and good traction are paramount in the twisty second sector between Turns 6 and 12. MotoGP has raced at the circuit since it opened, and also held its second pre-season test there last week. It serves as the series’ sole night race, and has been its season opener since 2007, though it was moved last year due to extensive remodelling works. Formula 1 held its first event at Lusail in 2021 before signing a new ten-year contract in 2023.

First impressions

Speaking after the drivers’ initial track walk, André Lotterer said: “We’ve been testing here before, but still we did the track walk so it was good to be with the engineers and go through all the data that we’ve learned from the test.” “It’s a very technical track, not easy on the tyres as graining is an issue, so hopefully we learn from that and improve the car with a better setup. Now it’s about getting on the track and seeing how we optimise everything and manage the traffic. Lot of corners, lot of medium-speed corners, but also a nice high-speed section in the last sector.”

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