Thu 01 October 2015
Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo visited London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park today to get a taste of what lies await when he makes his Race Of Champions debut next month.
The Australian, who has three F1 grand prix victories to his name, took to the wheel of an Ariel Atom Cup car to try out the new ROC Skills Challenge presented by TAG Heuer, which will be part of the action at next month’s Race Of Champions. And it all took place in the shadow of London’s former Olympic Stadium, which will host the big event on November 20-21.
Reigning ROC Champion of Champions David Coulthard, Williams Martini Racing's Official Test Driver Susie Wolff and British Touring Car legend Jason Plato were also in action today at the home of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games – ahead of their own appearances at next month’s Race Of Champions.
An exact replica of the ROC Skills Challenge course – specially designed to test a range of driving skills including chicanes, slaloms, 360° turns and parallel parking – was set up to give the four drivers the chance to show off their skills. They obliged, hurling the Ariel Atom Cup cars around in a cloud of tyre smoke.
Ricciardo said: “It’s really exciting to be coming here to the Race Of Champions for the first time. I’ve watched it for many years, especially as a kid – so it’s nice to be a part of it this year. One of my favourite times during a Formula 1 race weekend is the drivers’ parade because that’s the time that you can soak up the noise of the crowd. So it will be cool to enjoy that side in London’s former Olympic Stadium next month. Of course I’ll come here with the intention of having a good time and I’m sure we all will but there’s always a bit of competition that runs through you…”
Schoolchildren from the London Borough of Newham also enjoyed the ride of their lives as they took to pedal-powered ROC Kettcars in a bid to impress the watching driving greats. Some will even have the chance to return to race the ROC Kettcars on the packed programme of entertainment for the Race Of Champions itself next month.
Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales, who attended today’s activities, said: “I am delighted that Newham is once again the venue for another world class event. The Race Of Champions shows the continued draw of the iconic former Olympic Stadium to hold prestigious events attracting some of the top names in their fields.
“This event will give Newham residents the chance to see some of the top names in motor racing that they may only have seen on the television. It is all set to be a high octane event that will once again show our ability and passion to stage events like these.”
The Race Of Champions is an annual end-of-season contest which has been running for over 25 years. It brings together some of the world’s greatest drivers from motor sport’s major disciplines – including Formula 1, Le Mans, Rallycross, Touring Cars and MotoGP – and sets them free to battle head-to-head in identical machinery.
The event is run over two days: first comes the ROC Nations Cup (on the evening of Friday November 20) when drivers pair up in teams based on nationality to bid for the title of ‘World’s Fastest Nation’. Then on the afternoon of Saturday November 21 it’s time for the Race Of Champions itself, when teamwork goes out of the window and it’s a flat-out battle for individual glory.
Along with Ricciardo, Coulthard, Wolff and Plato, drivers competing at ROC 2015 include Formula 1 stars Sebastian Vettel, Nico Hülkenberg and Felipe Massa, ‘Mr Le Mans’ Tom Kristensen, reigning World Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg, reigning Formula E Champion Nelson Piquet Jr plus MotoGP world champions Mick Doohan and Jorge Lorenzo.
In recent years ROC has visited the Stade de France in Paris (2004-2006), London’s Wembley Stadium (2007-2008), the ‘Bird’s Nest’ Olympic Stadium in Beijing (2009), Düsseldorf’s Esprit Arena (2010-2011), the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok (2012) and Bushy Park Barbados (2014). Now the contest is returning to its European roots at the iconic home of the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Tickets for ROC 2015 in London are now available via www.raceofchampions.com. For access to rights-free high-resolution imagery and to keep up with all the latest news ahead of this year’s event please visit www.raceofchampions.com, Race Of Champions on Facebook plus @raceofchampions and #ROCLondon on Twitter.
Drivers already announced for the 2015 Race Of Champions: