The 2022 WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup will be decided over two events in the Middle East when Bahrain and Saudi Arabia host the Discovery Sports Events and FIA action series for the first time later this season.
With the full support of the Bahrain Motoring Federation and the Saudi Arabian Automobile and Motorcycle Federation respectively, the WTCR Race of Bahrain is scheduled to take place on November 10-12 as part of the Bahrain 8 Hours weekend of the FIA World Endurance Championship, with the WTCR Race of Saudi Arabia night racing event from November 25-27.
The WTCR Race of Bahrain and WTCR Race of Saudi Arabia join the 2022 WTCR calendar in lieu of the planned Asian leg of racing in China, Macau and South Korea which could not take place this year due to restrictions resulting from the global health pandemic. The calendar changes were approved by the recent FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting and represent a major opportunity for WTCR, which has never before visited the Middle East, a key hub of motor sport.
Adding the Bahrain International Circuit and Jeddah Corniche Circuit to this season’s calendar means the 2022 WTCR title hunt will be decided at two Formula One Grand Prix venues built to FIA Grade One safety standards. With WTCR joining the FIA World Endurance Championship event in Bahrain, two FIA world-class competitions will appear at the same time.
In fact, the inaugural WTCR race in Bahrain, which is being organized in collaboration with WEC promoter Le Mans Endurance Management, will feature one race on Friday 11 November and the second race on the morning of Saturday 12 November before 8 a.m. Bahrain hours. The WEC season finale will start later that day. The inaugural WTCR Bahrain race will use the full 5.412-kilometre, 15-turn Grand Prix circuit layout of the Bahrain International Circuit.
Meanwhile, WTCR’s first visit to Saudi Arabia brings international touring car action to the country for the first time for a pair of exciting night races promoted by the Saudi Motorsport Company. The series will be the first to use an alternative 3,450-kilometre track, which has recently been homologated and selected as its design is tailor-made for bumper-to-bumper, door-to-door FIA World Touring Car racing.
The WTCR race of Bahrain will count as rounds 15 and 16 of the 2022 season, while the WTCR race of Saudi Arabia will make up rounds 17 and 18. The decision not to add a third replacement event as rounds 19 and 20 was made after to consult with the teams. and is based purely on financial considerations.
Alan Gow, Chairman of the FIA Touring Car Commissionsaid: “Having two world-class venues, such as the Bahrain International Circuit and the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, joining the FIA WTCR World Touring Car Cup calendar is a positive development for the series. It’s also great to finally have a joint event with the FIA World Endurance Championship. Despite the obvious differences in cars and race lengths, touring cars and sports cars belong to the same closed-cockpit racing family. There have always been crossovers between the two and drivers tend to switch from one discipline to another. This will also be something special for the fans, the media and should offer both promoters the opportunity to do some interesting promotional activities.”
Jean-Baptiste Ley, WTCR Director, Discovery Sports Eventssaid: “When it became clear that ongoing travel restrictions caused by the global health pandemic made it impossible to go ahead with the planned Asian leg, we shifted our focus to alternative timing options that we had been working on in parallel. The opportunity to compete in a new but important region for the series at two world-class venues was therefore extremely attractive and we were very pleased to finish the inaugural WTCR race of Bahrain and WTCR race of Saudi Arabia which will take place out this November.
“We are grateful to the FIA, the Saudi Arabian Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, the Saudi Motorsport Company and, in the case of the Bahrain event, the Bahrain Motor Federation, the Bahrain International Circuit and our partners at ACO through Le Man’s Endurance Management. We already work closely with the ACO on the 24 Heures Motos, an event of the FIM Endurance World Championship for motorcycles that we also promote, and we are delighted to extend this partnership to another category.
“We also thank DHL, our official logistics partner, and the other key WTCR stakeholders, in particular the teams, drivers, customer racing departments and suppliers for their unwavering support and patience. We can now look forward to what we strongly believe will be an exciting and fitting conclusion to the 2022 season and we hope our fans enjoy the show.”
Sherif Al Mahdy, Commercial Director of the Bahrain International Circuitsaid: “It is a great honor for us to host WTCR on its debut in the Middle East and also the first time it will appear alongside the World Endurance Championship. The unique mix of touring car and sports car racing will create an exciting show for fans in Bahrain and around the world and we look forward to welcoming the entrants later this year.”
His Royal Highness Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Abdullah Al-Faisal, Chairman of the Saudi Federation of Automobiles and Motorcycles and Chairman of the Saudi Motorsport Company, said: “We are delighted to host the FIA World Touring Car Cup for the first time later this year and are immensely grateful to Discovery Sports Events and the FIA for helping to make this happen. The arrival of another world-class racing series in Saudi Arabia confirms the extent of the Kingdom’s transformation into a hub for motorsports in the region and further accelerates the rate of progress we are seeing as a result of hosting such major events. This year alone we have hosted the Dakar Rally, Formula E and Extreme E events. In addition, we hosted Formula 1 for the second time at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in March. We now look forward to continuing this streak of success hosting the World Touring Car Cup season finale at our newly configured circuit.”
THE RACE FOR THE WTCR TITLE OPENS TO THE MIDDLE EAST
Following the inaugural race of the WTCR Alsace GrandEst at the Circuit de l’Anneau du Rhin, which took place August 6-7, Mikel Azcona is the Goodyear #FollowTheLeader with a 35-point lead in the provisional title order. However, with a maximum of 65 points up for grabs in each event, the winner of the 2022 WTCR title is far from decided as the series continues its summer break. The WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Team Cup is also far from settled and is currently led by BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse.
SEA CARGO OFFERS A SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT OPTION FOR WTCR
WTCR cars, parts, tyres, fuel and other equipment will be transported to the Middle East by sea in line with Discovery Sports Events’ commitment to use the most sustainable travel option available under its obligations as a WTCR environmental certification holder. three FIA stars. Accreditation. This was issued in May 2021 following a rigorous audit process in line with motorsport’s world governing body’s Environmental Certification Framework. All logistics operations are being handled by the WTCR’s official logistics partner, DHL.
WTCR: Remaining FIA World Touring Car Cup events in 2022
- Rounds 15 and 16: WTCR Bahrain Race, Bahrain International Circuit, November 10-12
- Rounds 17 and 18: WTCR Race of Saudi Arabia, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, November 25-27**
**Subject to signing the Event Promoter Agreement