Sweden’s Pite Havsbad was crawling with greats of global motorsport today ahead of this weekend’s Race Of Champions World Final (February 5-6)
Legendary names from series including Formula 1, NASCAR, Indy 500, Le Mans and World Rally put in their first practice laps of ROC’s new ice track on the frozen Baltic Sea just 60 miles from the Arctic Circle
FIA World Rally and Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg neatly summed up his priorities: “The main thing is to beat the Swedes…”
Seven-time NASCAR Champion Jimmie Johnson added: “Team USA is made up of two Californian guys who have never driven on snow and ice before… What could go wrong?”
2021 W Series runner-up Emma Kimilainen replaces F1 star Valtteri Bottas in the ROC line-up, also partnering double F1 world champion Mika Hakkinen on Team Finland in the ROC Nations Cup
The racing action gets under way with tomorrow’s ROC Nations Cup at 1200 CET followed by Sunday’s individual Race Of Champions, also at 1200 CET
The event, the first time the Race Of Champions has ever taken place on ice, will be broadcast LIVE on TV all over the world. For more details see below…
Driving greats from all over the world have arrived in the icy cold of Sweden ahead of this weekend’s Race Of Champions – and they have been enjoying their first practice laps of the brand new purpose-built ROC parallel track on the frozen Baltic Sea at Pite Havsbad, just 60 miles from the Arctic Circle.
The Race Of Champions brings together some of the world’s greatest drivers from motorsport’s major disciplines – including Formula 1, NASCAR, Indy 500, Le Mans, World Rally and Rallycross – and sets them free to battle head-to-head.
As ever the drivers will race in identical cars on the exact same track, so winners will be decided by skill alone. This year’s selection of mighty machinery includes the FIA RX2e – an electric rallycross car generating 250kW power and up to 510 Nm torque. The Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport will also feature alongside the off-road Polaris RZR PRO XP, while the SuperCar Lites return, this time powered by 100% fossil-free biofuel.
There has been a late change to this weekend’s line-up as 2021 W Series runner-up Emma Kimilainen replaces F1 star Valtteri Bottas, who has late commitments with his new Alfa Romeo team ahead of the 2022 season.
Bottas explained: “I was really looking forward to my first participation in the Race Of Champions, but unfortunately I have last minute obligations with my new team preparing for the upcoming F1 season which means I can’t attend ROC this weekend as planned. I’m really sorry about this, but I have already confirmed my participation for next year’s Race Of Champions! I wish everyone a great event, be safe and have a lot of fun!”
The competitive action starts with tomorrow’s ROC Nations Cup, when the drivers pair up in national teams (Saturday February 5, 12:00-15:00 CET). Then comes the individual Race Of Champions (Sunday February 6, 12:00-15:00 CET) when it’s a straight battle to come away with the coveted title of ROC Champion of Champions.
As they tried out the all-new ROC track for the first time, the drivers faced the media at Pite Havsbad. Here’s a selection of what they’ve said so far:
Sebastian Vettel, four-time F1 World Champion (Team Germany)
“It’s great to be back at the Race Of Champions. I have many happy memories from both on and off the track, but especially off the track! Michael Schumacher and I won the ROC Nations Cup six times and Mick and I reached the final in Mexico. Now this event is another new challenge. I’m a big fan of this part of the world and these wintry conditions. I’ve done very little driving on ice and I’m still struggling to judge exactly what I need to do, but that’s the name of the game, and it’s a lot of fun. It’s obviously very different to what we do in F1, which is to try to keep things as clean as possible. Here you have to do the opposite – and you need to slide, but not too much…”
Mick Schumacher, F1 racer, FIA F2 and F3 Champion (Team Germany)
“My first time driving on ice was in 2014 and I’ve only done it two or three times since then, so my experience is pretty marginal. But I’ve always enjoyed it and this will be a fun – and hopefully successful – weekend. As for the cars, the electric rallycross car is really fun but the Polaris has the upper hand for me right now. The track is slippery and I’ve hit a few walls but that’s OK. They’re soft, at least for now!”