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Supercars courting Qatar for 2024 showcase

THERE could yet be a second international Supercars sojourn in 2024.

Rumours are persisting that a non-championship round in Qatar is being explored for the end of the year.

Qatar’s Lusail International Circuit will play host to the penultimate round of the 2024 Formula 1 World Championship on November 29 to December 1, and it’s there that Supercars could appear as a support category.

The Adelaide 500 holds the rights to the Supercars season finale until the end of 2026, so Qatar would purely be an exhibition showcase.

One of Supercars owner RACE’s key ambitions is to re-internationalise the championship, and it’s a move supported by former supremo Tony Cochrane.

Barclay Nettlefold. Pic: Ross Gibb

It has been well-documented how Supercars pushed for a place on the 2024 F1 Singapore Grand Prix undercard, but that is on the backburner for at least 12 months.

Supercars will return to the F1 stage at Albert Park in March but maybe that won’t be the last time in 2024.

Qatar by no means is a done deal, but it certainly has been discussed and is not off the table.

Various industry sources have rated Supercars’ chances of heading to Lusail next year at anywhere from 10 to 80 percent.

A trip to Qatar would spell a return to the Middle East for the Australian category.

It competed in Bahrain four times between 2006 and 2010, and the United Arab Emirates three times from 2010 – the last of which came as a support to F1.

The possibility of a non-championship Qatar appearance aside, it has become an unusually long wait for the championship calendar to be released.

First there was uncertainty around the Newcastle 500; it’s since become clear that Mount Panorama instead will host the season-opener, as well as the Repco Bathurst 1000 in October.

Negotiations around a renewal for The Bend Motorsport Park now appear to be the hold-up, leading to Supercars drip-feeding event dates rather than making a complete announcement as had been hoped to be possible by last month’s Great Race.

It’s believed the structure of Supercars’ broadcast arrangement means it receives no more money from the TV networks for holding 13 or 14 rounds than it does for the minimum 12.

Twilight at the Lusail International Circuit. Pic: Red Bull Content Pool

An increase in funding is said to only arise if there’s a rise to 15 events, which is not currently being entertained.

On the flipside, RACE is obligated to make additional payments to each Teams Racing Charter holder for each and every event past the minimum 12.

Supercars this morning unveiled a June 14-16 slot for the 2024 Darwin Triple Crown, adding to confirmed dates for the Bathurst 500, the new Taupo SuperSprint in New Zealand, the Townsville 500 and Gold Coast 500.

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