Fri 19 June 2015
Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen and reigning FIA World Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg have joined the field for the 2015 Race Of Champions on November 20-21 at the Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – the iconic home of the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Denmark’s Kristensen is acknowledged as the finest endurance racer in motor sport history. He has a record nine wins at the Le Mans 24 Hours in addition to his record six wins at the Sebring 12-Hour race, an American Le Mans Series title and an FIA World Endurance Championship title in 2013. Since his retirement from WEC at the end of last season he has continued to work as an ambassador for Audi and he was the Grand Marshal at last week’s Le Mans 24 Hours, leading the field away.
Norway’s Solberg is another member of driving’s elite, having reached the top of the world in two different fields of motor sport. He won the FIA World Rally Championship in 2003 and amassed over 50 WRC podiums in his glittering career. He switched to the FIA World Rallycross Championship last year and duly won it at his first attempt. Solberg is also leading this year’s championship as he bids to defend his title.
Prior to last year in Barbados, Solberg’s last Race Of Champions appearance came at Wembley Stadium in 2007 when he partnered brother Henning to the semi-finals of the ROC Nations Cup. Kristensen has rather more experience, having appeared at every Race Of Champions since 2001.
Now, following their ROC Nations Cup victory in Barbados for Team Nordic last year, Kristensen and Solberg have another title to defend in November at London’s former Olympic Stadium. The pair will also join the reigning ROC Champion of Champions David Coulthard in the individual Race Of Champions, with the rest of the superstar field due to be announced in the run-up to the event on November 20-21. Tickets for both days of racing are now on sale from www.ticketmaster.co.uk/roc.
Kristensen said: “My ‘official’ last race was at the World Endurance Championship in Sao Paulo last year but I count the Race Of Champions as the exception to the rule! I’ve been coming here for many years and I hope to keep that up into the future. The challenge is to drive against top drivers from a wide range of motor sport series, but what we all love about ROC is that we get to socialise off the track too. ROC is always great fun, and I’m sure it will treat a pensioner very well!
“It was great to win the ROC Nations Cup with Petter in Barbados last year. Denmark and Norway are usually rivals rather than partners but we showed we can team up if we really have to… We worked very well together and last year’s victory shows that, I guess. There were a lot of tight finishes but in the end we showed those younger drivers we still have what it takes. Now I’ll look forward to putting on a show for the crowds in London and hopefully take my first individual ROC title.”
Solberg added: “Of course there is a fun side to the Race Of Champions but that’s not why we all come. When I do anything I always want to give 110 percent. So we come to race, push to the max and show the rest who’s boss. But at ROC you don’t get much time to think and you have to get straight on the pace so it’s not easy.
“The big problem is that all the other drivers are as crazy as I am! Nonetheless Tom and I had a good run last year and we’ll do everything to reach the top of the podium again in London. Then I’ll work just as hard to beat him – and everyone else – in the individual Race Of Champions. Either way we’ll put on plenty of action for the fans to make sure everyone leaves the former Olympic Stadium with a smile on their face.”
The Race Of Champions is an annual end-of-season contest which has been held for over 25 years. It brings together some of the world’s greatest drivers from motor sport’s major disciplines – including Formula 1, World Rally, Le Mans, MotoGP and the X-Games – 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.
ROC president Fredrik Johnsson said: “We are delighted to welcome Tom and Petter back to this year’s Race Of Champions in London. They are both exceptional drivers in their fields and they proved how strong they can be as a team when they saw off all challengers to win the ROC Nations Cup last year in Barbados. I’m sure they will both be serious contenders again in the former Olympic Stadium.
“Quite apart from all the honours they have gained in their illustrious careers, what sets these two apart is how entertaining they are to watch. Tom can turn his hand to anything on wheels and the way Petter throws cars around a track has to be seen to be believed. This is a unique chance for race fans to watch their mastery in action at close quarters in the intimacy of a stadium environment. We anticipate a full house in November to enjoy the truly memorable show these greats will put on.”
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 once more at the iconic home of the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The former Olympic Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park was the backdrop to some of the most memorable action of London 2012, plus the opening and closing ceremonies. Now it is being transformed into a year-round multi-use venue that will deliver a lasting sporting, cultural and community legacy in east London. The works will be paused this autumn for a range of international sporting events – including its fastest ever race as ROC comes to town – before it closes for further refurbishment ahead of its full re-opening in 2016.
Tickets for ROC 2015 in London are now available via www.ticketmaster.co.uk/roc. 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.