The FIA World Touring Car Cup season will conclude in the Middle East in November, with the revised calendar now published featuring trips to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Following the cancellation of the Asian leg of the season, with planned races in China, Macau and South Korea, due to travel complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the FIA WTCR will now finish the season with two events in the Middle East.
It will mark the first time the series has raced in the Middle East, although its predecessor, the World Touring Car Championship, raced in Qatar in 2015 to 2017, whilst the TCR International Series previously visited the Bahrain circuit in 2016 and 2017.
The two events have been agreed with the support of the Bahrain Motor Federation and Saudi Arabian Automobile and Motorcycle Federation respectively.
WTCR Race of Bahrain is scheduled to take place from 10 – 12 November as a support series to the FIA World Endurance Championship’s 8 Hours of Bahrain weekend.
Due to timetable restrictions, it means that race one will take place on Friday 11 November followed by race two on the Saturday morning.
The season will then conclude with a night race in Saudi Arabia on 25 – 27 November in Jeddah, utilising a recently-homologated alternative 3.450 km circuit which is shorter than the configuration used in Formula One.
The calendar changes were approved at last month’s meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council.
It means the 2022 season will conclude based on 18 races and not 20 as originally planned, with the decision being made for budgetary reasons.
“Having two world-class venues such as the Bahrain International Circuit and Jeddah Corniche Circuit joining the WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup calendar is a positive development for the series,” said Alan Gow, FIA Touring Car Commission President.
“It’s also great to finally have a joint event with the FIA World Endurance Championship. Despite obvious differences in cars and race durations, touring cars and sportscars belong to the same family of closed-cockpit racing.
“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 of promoter Discovery Sports Events, thanked all involved stakeholders for their patience as the final piece of the 2022 WTCR jigsaw was arranged.
“When it became clear that ongoing travel restrictions caused by the global health pandemic made going ahead with the planned Asia leg impossible, we switched our focus to the alternative calendar options we had been working on in parallel,” explained Ley.
“The opportunity to race in a new but important region for the series at two world-class venues was therefore extremely appealing and we were very pleased to finalise the inaugural WTCR Race of Bahrain and WTCR Race of Saudi Arabia to take place this November.
“We thank the FIA, the Saudi Arabian Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, Saudi Motorsport Company, and in the case of the Bahrain event, the Bahrain Motor Federation, Bahrain International Circuit and our partners at ACO through Le Mans Endurance Management.
“We already work in close collaboration with the ACO on the 24 Heures Motos, a round of the FIM Endurance World Championship for motorbikes that we also promote, and we are delighted to extend this alliance into another category.
“We also thank DHL, our official logistics partner, and the WTCR’s other key stakeholders, particularly the teams, drivers, customer racing departments and suppliers for their unwavering support and patience.
“We can now look forward to what we firmly believe will be an exciting and fitting conclusion to the 2022 season and we very much hope our fans enjoy the show.”