Tue 17 November 2015
The Race Of Champions is celebrating its visit to London’s former Olympic Stadium on November 20-21 by launching a brand new racing concept.
As ever some of the world’s best drivers will race head-to-head in identical cars on the exact same tarmac, so winners will be decided by driver skill alone. But while at traditional ROC events the drivers have raced side-by-side on a parallel track linked by a crossover bridge, the format will change this year. Now they will take part in an Olympic cycling-style pursuit race on an all-new track that is wider, faster and more spectacular than ever before.
Each driver will start from a point halfway around the track from their rival. To rev up the tension even further, the track has been designed so the two racers will start next to each other but facing in opposite directions. At the green light they will speed off in a bid to hunt each other down, with the ROC arch lighting up to show who’s in front at each split. It all builds up to the big finish – again approached from opposite ends – where there can only be one winner, often decided only by fractions of a second.
Unlike previous ROC layouts, the new track no longer needs to be divided in two with a barrier so it will be wider – leading to even more spectacular racing. The traditional knockout format will otherwise stay the same for both the ROC Nations Cup and the individual Race Of Champions, with tension building via quarter-finals and semi-finals all the way to the Grand Final when the last two drivers will battle for the ultimate title of ‘Champion of Champions’.
ROC president Fredrik Johnsson said: “We are always keen to innovate at the Race Of Champions and this new racing format is the latest example. In honour of our visit to London’s former Olympic Stadium we are launching a pursuit-style race. The tight finishes and tension this generates will be familiar to British sports fans from Olympic cycling – but motor sport takes this concept to even higher speeds.
“The new format will allow us to build a wider, more spectacular and versatile circuit than ever before. With identical cars the emphasis remains firmly on driver skill alone and the finishes will be as close as ever, with races often decided only by fractions of a second. The crowds at the former Olympic Stadium are in for a treat as some of the world’s greatest drivers hunt each other down all the way to the chequered flag.”
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, IndyCar, Rallycross and Touring Cars – 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.
The 2015 field features F1 stars Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Romain Grosjean, Nico Hülkenberg and Felipe Massa, ‘Mr Le Mans’ Tom Kristensen, reigning World Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg, reigning Formula E Champion Nelson Piquet Jr, reigning World Touring Car Champion José Maria López, reigning DTM Champion Pascal Wehrlein, 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, triple World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx, Williams Martini Racing’s Official Test Driver Susie Wolff, double British Touring Car Champion Jason Plato, Blancpain Endurance Series Champion Alex Buncombe, 2014 GP2 Champion Jolyon Palmer, ROC Champion of Champions David Coulthard 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.
The driver line-up for the 2015 Race Of Champions:
Full line-up for the ROC Celebrity Skills Challenge presented by TAG Heuer: