Speedcafe has been told of a plan to fly 12 cars – half the Supercars field – to Qatar for the penultimate 2024 F1 round at the Lusail circuit.
The Supercars contingent would do mock races in scheduled demonstration runs on the support program leading up to the Sunday night GP.
There is the possibility that the Aussie V8s would get a run under lights earlier in the weekend.
Twilight partially lit sessions could precede F1 action on the Friday and/or Saturday.
As Supercars owner RACE kingpin Barclay Nettlefold works towards a deal to appear at the Qatar GP, Southport sources maintain the idea is for a full field to contest non-championship races at the F1 event.
All other evidence suggests the latest plan is for a demo appearance at the Lusail circuit outside the Qatari capital of Doha at the end of next year.
The 2024 F1 Qatar GP is scheduled for November 29-December 1 – two weeks after the season-ending November 14-17 Vailo Adelaide 500.
The unusually early end of next year's Repco Supercars Championship indicates that room has been left for an additional off-shore non-title event.
Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina circuit hosted standalone Supercars rounds in 2010 and '11 as off-shore championship openers, with a final late-season appearance in 2012 on the F1 GP undercard.
Qatar is an independent emirate in the Arabian Gulf region, close to the island state of Bahrain, which also hosts an F1 race and held four Supercars rounds from 2006-10.
Quite why the Qatar GP organisers are interested in paying to add Supercars is a puzzle, with a new F2 and F1 Academy support race program already scheduled to join the previously standalone F1 event.
The engagement would be potentially lucrative for Supercars and the teams, but of little obvious benefit to the event, especially as the Aussie V8s have a chequered history of attraction in the Middle East.
Supercars rounds at Bahrain's Sakhir circuit and Yas Marina were expensive flops for the tracks.
A more logical link, scheduling aside, would be with the Saudi Arabia GP at the Jeddah street circuit, run by former Supercars boss Martin Whitaker.
The British expat brokered the deal for Supercars to race at the then new Bahrain circuit, which he headed before his brief tenure in Australia in 2010/11.
Whitaker also influenced the initial twinning of Supercars events in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.
But as RACE continues to pursue primary support race status at the Singapore GP, an appearance at the Qatar GP in some form is the latest focus for an off-shore event outside Australasia with the return of NZ next year.
Supercars insiders report genuine interest from the Qatar GP and are adamant that, if the deal goes ahead, it would be for a full field contesting non-championship races.
However, sources also confirm that there's no agreement yet for Supercars to be on the Qatar support race program in any form.
It is looking unlikely for next year, with 2025 the latest target.
In any event, for Supercars to join the F1 Qatar GP undercard would need to be funded by the organisers, including air freighting the Aussie V8s there and back.
Speculation about a 12-car demonstration make sense from a cost perspective.
Along with support equipment, they would fit in one Boeing 747 air freighter.
An overseas demonstration by Supercars would not be unprecedented.
It took to the streets of Kula Lumpur in Malaysia with five cars in 2015 ahead of a proposed title round.
Supercars' proposed KL City GP died due to a local sanctioning dispute.
Supercars owner RACE is actively pursuing F1 alignments, with the Singapore GP at the top of its list.
Negotiations to join the Singapore F1 night race support race program have slowed.
It is the most logical regional fly-away, but the cost to the organisers remains prohibitive.
Oil-rich Qatar – trying to assert itself against UAE rivals Dubai and Abu Dhabi – can afford to splash out on Supercars in addition to F1 and MotoGP.
Next year's Qatar GP will add F2 and the all-female F1 Academy on its support race program, with the busy schedule making demos by Supercars more likely than full-blown races.
The Qatar GP organisers seem prepared to pay to have Supercars on their support race program in 2024 or '25.
A 12-car demo field makes more financial sense, containing costs at both ends.
Teams would be paid extra, commensurate with fielding one car each with limited equipment and spares fitting on one air freighter each way.
The current Teams Racing Charter agreement commits Supercars teams to 12 events a year, with extra payments for additional events.
It has also been suggested that staging limited-field demonstrations rather than official full-entry races at next year's Qatar GP would get around the TRC restriction against adding events after the season calendar has been published, as revealed previously by Speedcafe.
A delay until 2025 would allow a racing appearance at Lusail to be included within the agreement, including compensation for an event – with or without championship status – in addition to the minimum 12 rounds.
Supercars is looking to expand to 15 or 16 events here and abroad in 2025.
NZ returns next year at Taupo, costing an Australian round.
There will be two events at Bathurst, plus the AGP, NZ, Wanneroo, Darwin, Townsville, Sydney Motorsport Park, Symmons Plains, Sandown, Gold Coast and Adelaide.
Missing is SA's The Bend, returning in '25 with a two-driver endurance race.
Supercars under RACE is pursuing future F1 race alignments to expand the sport's global reach.
It is also spending millions of dollars on achieving aero and engine parity to placate global players Ford and GM, on whom the category depends, while establishing a level paying field for other manufacturers to join in the future.
Hear more about the Qatar demo in the latest episode of the Speedcafe Newscast.