The Qatar hurdle created by the 2024 Supercars calendar
Friday 17th November, 2023 - 6:00am
While the 2024 Supercars calendar contains a hint at the category’s Qatar ambitions, a new hurdle has arisen.
That hurdle is the very release of said calendar.
Barclay Nettlefold, Chairman of Supercars parent company RACE, has lofty overseas aspirations for the Australian touring car category.
The 2024 calendar points to the apparent goal of joining the Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix support bill as soon as next year, by way of the date of the Vailo Adelaide 500.
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Next year’s season finale is now locked in on November 14-17, a week earlier than signs had indicated, and indeed a week earlier than it will be held this year, despite the Gold Coast 500 remaining on the final weekend of October.
While that creates a little more momentum in the business end of the season, with no more than three weeks (Sunday to Sunday) separating the Sandown 500, Bathurst 1000, Gold Coast 500, or Adelaide 500, the real benefit, it seems, was contractual.
Next year’s Qatar Grand Prix will be run on November 30-December 1, and hence the choice of Adelaide date creates a gap of a full weekend between those two events.
That is important because, Speedcafe understands, the Teams Racing Charter stipulates that there must be an off weekend between events.
However, the TRC is also understood to stipulate a further two pertinent clauses which would render a stop in Qatar infeasible next year unless special arrangements are made.
One is that there cannot be an event held within 60 days of the final event of a season, and the other is that events may not be added once a calendar is published.
Obviously, an event at the Lusail International Circuit, non-championship though it would be (owing to Adelaide’s contractual right to host the season finale), violates both of those clauses.
Nevertheless, there is an avenue for a stop in Qatar – which was considered a longshot for 2024 even before the release of the calendar – to be put on.
Teams may elect to vote to waive the above referenced clauses, although it is thought that a special majority of 75 percent of TRC holders (ie teams collectively representing at least 18 full-time entries out of the 24) would have to agree for that vote to succeed.
Presumably, said special majority would need to be incentivised financially for their vote, which raises another question.
That is, given RACE/Supercars would presumably need to at least come close to breaking even on what would be a not inexpensive exercise, the Qatar promoters would have to stump up a significant sum to make the initiative worthwhile.
Their motive to do so is diminished for 2024.
This year’s Qatar Grand Prix was bereft of support categories but the FIA Formula 2 World Championship and the all-female F1 Academy will race at Lusail on the Formula 1 undercard next year.
While it is not a packed programme like the Singapore Grand Prix’s, having F1’s direct feeder championship on the support bill does reduce the value which Supercars would bring in terms of providing entertainment complementary to the headline act.
Thus, by similar logic to that which applies to Singapore, the question must be asked as to how the event promoter and Supercars can reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
The release of the 2024 Supercars calendar suggests that RACE may have tried for racing at the Lusail Formula 1 event but, on the other side of the coin, it also suggests that goal does have challenges in being fulfilled next year.