This 2024 WEC Qatar 1812 km race report was compiled by regular endurance-racing correspondent Dr Nick van der Meulen.

The opening round of the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) took place in Qatar. The 1812 km race comprises of 335 laps or 10 hours of racing, maximum. The circuit is MotoGP compliant, which means it has the MotoGP-style rumble strips. It can damage a vehicle’s undertray, so running over them is not desirable.

According to Toyota driver and reigning work champion Brendan Hartley, the circuit is fast and flowing. There are few braking places on track, making it difficult to overtake. Furthermore, the circuit is gentle on tyre wear and teams would attempt more than one stint on a single set of tyres. It was hot and stifling during the day, but the pressure dropped markedly after dusk, which would change grip for the last 100 laps of the race.

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Glory Days

The series appears to be returning to its heyday, with no fewer than 19 entries for the premier Hypercar class (23 expected for the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans!) and 18 entries for the GT3 category. Brand new machines from Isotta Fraschini, Lamborghini and Alpine appeared on the grid at Qatar (no more Vanwall – its entry was not accepted for the 2024 season).

While BMW makes its Hypercar debut in WEC 2024, despite using their machine in IMSA the previous season. Porsche have had a storming start to the season winning the Daytona 24 Hours, as well as the Bathurst 12 hour before WEC’s season start (Matt Campbell behind the wheel of both winning machines). Their 963 Hypercar has had a season to iron out the bugs and the new 911 GT3 appears as reliable as ever, easy on their tyres and with exceptional handling (as noted by their rivals at Bathurst).

Fast Start

The Penske Porsche 963 #5 (Christensen/Campbell/Makowiecki) took pole position, however, was passed by Ferrari #50 (Molina/Fuoco/Nielsen) at the start, with Peugeot #93 (Müller/Vergne/Jensen) passing Christensen for second place early on while scything through traffic. The Swiss driver surged into the lead soon afterwards and led the race for a good 50 laps, before making a slight mistake on lap 55.

Penske Porsche #6 (Vanthoor/Estre/Lotterer)) needed no second invitation and sliced through into the lead. The #50 Ferrari made a mistake at the end of its first stint, Molina crossing the white line at pit entry and being penalised with a drive-through penalty. The #51 Ferrari qualified poorly and lost its rear wing section mid-race (Pier Guidi/Gallado/Giovinazzi), which required replacing. They struggled with handling and had the rear section replaced again in the hope to iron out their issues.

Winning Ways

Porsche #6 romped to victory, after leading a good 300 laps to the chequered flag. This is Team Penske’s first WEC victory and the Porsche 963’s first in the Hypercar category. Tragedy struck Peugeot #93 on the penultimate lap. The machine lost power while Jean Eric Vergne was in second place. They coasted over the finish line in seventh place. This allowed Porsche to lock out the podium, with JOTA #12 (Stevens/Ilot/Nato) finishing a fine second ahead of Porsche #5. This was despite Christensen complaining of vibration issues in two of his racing stints.

Ferrari Falter

Cadillac #2 (Bamber/Lynn/Bourdais) languished in mid-field for much of the race, but finished strongly to claim fourth place at the fall of the flag. Ferrari had a tough day at the office, with the second AF Corse team, running #83 (Kubica/Schwartzmann/Ye) beating the works squad by finishing a solid fifth. The works #50 machine finished eighth.

Toyota Bounce Back

Toyota struggled with, according to Hartley, not many upgrades to the machine from last season (other than its new colour scheme). They complained of lack of pace and it was clear that the team was not up to speed compared to their rivals. Their experience in Hypercar paid dividends, however, and the team crept into points-scoring positions. The #7 machine (Kobayashi/Conway/De Vries) worked its way to sixth place, demonstrating superior fuel saving, while #8 (Buemi/Hartley/Hirakawa) claimed the final points on offer.


Alpine have not been spectacular, as they require testing time for their brand-new machine. Debutant Mick Schumacher, driving #36 (Lapierre/Vaxviere) had an incident on lap 247, passing a GT3 car and running off into the gravel after slight contact. Lapierre had a similar incident later and the car didn’t finish in the points. The #35 Alpine (Chatlin/Habsburg/Milesi) provided the marque with points by finishing ninth. There was a single retirement in the Hypercar category, that of Isotta Fraschini #11.


Porsche made a clean sweep of race day by winning the first race in the history of WEC GT3. Manthey PureRxing Porsche #92 (Malykhin/Sturm/Bachler) ran at the front for most of the race, winning the class at a canter. A spin by Heart of Racing Aston Martin #27 (Riberas/James/Mancinelli) on Lap 217 while leading, hurt their chances of victory, but they still finished a fine second.

D’Station Racing Aston Martin #777 (Mateu/Bastard/Sorensen) after a long battle for position with WRT BMW #46 (Rossi/Martin/Al Harthy). AF Corse Ferrari #54 (Flohr/Castellacci/Rigon) ran strongly in the race’s early stages. They even led at one point, but fell back to finish fifth. Iron Dames Lamborghini #85 (Bovy/Pin/Gatting) struggled for pace, but claimed points for finishing sixth. TF Sport Corvette #81, the polesitter, dropped back at the start of the race. They suffered gear selection issues, losing valuable time in the pits, before being retired after 6 ¾ hours.

SA Connection

The Van der Linde brothers made their debut in WEC, Sheldon in the #20 BMW Hypercar (with Frijns/Rast) and Kelvin in the GT3 Akkodis Lexus #78 (with Boguslavskiy/Robin). Sheldon finished the race 12th overall (and in class), while Kelvin was classified 49 laps behind class winner after a myriad of problems.

Points Finishers

The top ten finishers in each class score points. With Porsche filling the top three points-scoring places, they have started their constructor championship campaign strongly. There are three points-scoring allocation forms, with different allocations for 6-hour, 8-10-hour and 24-hour events. Vanthoor/Estre/Lotterer lead the championship with 38 points, ahead of Stevens/Illot/Nato with 27 points.  The remaining eight cars’ drivers claim 23, 18, 15, 12, 9, 6, 3 and 2 points, respectively.

No Sense

WEC can be proud of the event that took place to open the season. This fan doesn’t understand how the FIA allowed this event to clash with the first F1 race of the season (and on a Saturday, to boot). The F1 paddock will have to work hard to step up the show to compete with WEC in 2024. The opening F1 race of the season was another snorefest. The second round of the WEC takes place in Italy, with the 6 Hours of Imola on 21 April.