Fri 13 November 2015
Next week’s Race Of Champions at London’s former Olympic Stadium will feature a record 20 drivers after today’s addition of two of the greatest drivers in Touring Car history: Guernseyman Andy Priaulx and Argentina’s José Maria ‘Pechito’ López.
Both are multiple winners of the FIA World Touring Car Championship. Priaulx took three consecutive titles between 2005 and 2007 while López took his second straight championship this year, seeing off his illustrious Citroën team-mates Yvan Muller and Sébastien Loeb. Now Priaulx and López will join a stunning ROC 2015 field racing in the iconic London venue on November 20-21.
The line-up also includes 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, Williams Martini Racing’s Official Test Driver Susie Wolff, British Touring Car great Jason Plato, 2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, 2014 GP2 Champion Jolyon Palmer, Blancpain Endurance Series Champion Alex Buncombe, 2015 DTM Champion Pascal Wehrlein, reigning ROC Champion of Champions David Coulthard plus MotoGP world champions Mick Doohan and Jorge Lorenzo.
José Maria ‘Pechito’ López is still revelling in his second WTCC triumph, sealed with victory in Thailand earlier this month. Despite strong competition from world-famous Citroën team-mates Yvan Muller and Sébastien Loeb, López has dominated each of the last two years, winning both titles with races to spare.
Before his WTCC heroics López had already competed in a wide range of different series including GP2, Formula 3000, ALMS and FIA GT. López has also been a test driver for the Renault F1 team and he was even lined up to race for the USF1 team that ultimately failed to make the grid in 2010. Such a variety of experience comes in handy at the Race Of Champions, where he will also partner Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay for the second time following his debut last year in Barbados.
López said: “This has been another great year for me and this invitation to the Race Of Champions is the perfect way to cap it off. This year the pressure was on and the competition with my team-mates was harder than ever so to to win the championship three races early was an amazing result. Now I can look forward to racing my fellow champions next week in London. The line-up is amazing with great drivers from all over the world so we now look forward to putting on a great show for the crowds.”
Andy Priaulx is a true legend of tin-top racing thanks to three WTCC crowns plus the previous year’s European Touring Car Championship, making it four titles on the trot. He has since branched out into other forms of racing, taking part in events including the Le Mans 24 Hours. This year he made an overdue return to the British Touring Car Championship, taking two victories.
The Guernseyman has a fine Race Of Champions record too, having reached two ROC Nations Cup finals – first in 2009 alongside F1 world champion Jenson Button, then in 2010 (pictured above) with fellow tin-top specialist Jason Plato. In the final he defeated Team Germany's Sebastian Vettel before narrowly losing out to Michael Schumacher in the tie-break. He will now be reunited with Plato as they aim to go even further for Team England 1 next Friday.
Ahead of the event, Priaulx said: “What a great way to end a busy season – joining all my fellow champions in a fun head-to-head battle. Same cars, same track: it will be an epic challenge. I love this event. Fredrik Johnsson and his team put on a great show so I can't wait to get there and catch up with everyone.”
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 F1, Le Mans, Rallycross, Touring Cars, IndyCar 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 as ‘Champion of Champions’.
ROC president Fredrik Johnsson said: “We are thrilled with the line-up of driving royalty who will be joining us at next week’s Race Of Champions. Andy and Pechito are two of the greatest touring car drivers of all time and they’ll be in good company among the superstars of Formula 1, Le Mans, IndyCar, Rallycross and MotoGP in London’s former Olympic Stadium. Now all we need is a packed house worthy of the occasion. Tickets are still available but I urge all British sports fans to get in quick!”
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 confirmed for the 2015 Race Of Champions:
Drivers confirmed for the ROC Celebrity Skills Challenge presented by TAG Heuer: