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Motorsport legends warm up for ROC World Final on Swedish ice

Updated: Jan 28, 2023



  • Sweden’s Pite Havsbad was awash with greats of global motorsport today ahead of this weekend’s Race Of Champions World Final (January 28-29)

  • Legendary names from series including Formula 1, Formula 2, IndyCar, Le Mans, W Series, WRC, World Rallycross, Nitro Rallycross and X-Games put in their first practice laps of ROC’s purpose-built track on the frozen Baltic Sea just 60 miles from the Arctic Circle

  • Ahead of their home race, Team Sweden’s Mattias Ekström said: “Team Germany don’t deserve any more wins, they have too many already”

  • Team Norway’s 2022 ROC Nations Cup winner Petter Solberg said: “There’s no chance I’m going easy on Oliver in the individual race; I’m so pumped up!”

  • Four-time F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel added: “It sounds like those two will need therapy on the way home…”

  • 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

  • ROC Sweden will be broadcast LIVE on TV all over the world. Details here…






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 busy enjoying their first practice laps of ROC’s iconic 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, Formula 2, IndyCar, Le Mans, W Series, WRC, World Rallycross, Nitro Rallycross and X-Games – 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, often by fractions of a second. This year’s range of mighty machinery includes the Cupra UrbanRebel Concept, the electric Zeroid X1 rallycross car powered by QEV and the electric FC1-X Nitro Rallycross car. The off-road Polaris RZR PRO XP makes a welcome ROC return as do the SuperCar Lites, now powered by 100% fossil-free biofuel.


The competitive action starts with tomorrow’s ROC Nations Cup, when the drivers pair up in national teams (Saturday January 28, 12:00-15:00 CET). Then comes the individual Race Of Champions (Sunday January 29, 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 took to the snowy ROC track, the drivers faced the media at Pite Havsbad. Here’s a selection of what they’ve said so far:




Petter Solberg, reigning ROC Nations Cup winner (Team Norway)

“The Race Of Champions is something I look forward to every year. The atmosphere is special with people from so many different countries and it’s great to be here. I’ve already had plenty of fun and yesterday I got properly stuck in the snow in the Porsche – twice – so everyone enjoyed watching that. We’ll see what happens when the race starts and the BS stops. Oliver and I will be defending our ROC Nations Cup title for Team Norway tomorrow but then on Sunday we’ve been drawn against each other in the individual race. There’s no chance I’m going easy on Oliver. If you want to win you have to earn it. I’m so pumped up, and I want to beat you properly.”

Oliver Solberg, reigning ROC Nations Cup winner (Team Norway)

“I’m team-mates with my Dad tomorrow, and of course we will hope to repeat our win last year for Team Norway in the ROC Nations Cup. Then on Sunday we will be fighters. It’s impossible to say who will win but it will be a big fight, that’s for sure. If you think he’ll go easy on me, you don’t know my Dad! We just had a nine-hour drive here and we talked on the way up, but on the way home we definitely won’t be talking. We are both bad winners and bad losers when we are with each other. At least I’ll have my Mum to talk to…”

Sebastian Vettel, four-time F1 World Champion (Team Germany)

“This is different to what we’re used to but anything can happen and we’re hungry. Looking around the draw Team USA could be a surprise but I’d still expect to see a Nordic team in the final. We will do our best too but whereas it feels like I have a screwdriver and a hammer, the rally drivers arrive at turn one with the whole toolbox. Last year Mick and I peaked at different times. On Saturday Mick was on form and I was lost. Then on Sunday I found a bit more rhythm and Mick got knocked out very early. I had an even longer drive up here with my father, from Switzerland via Germany, Norway and Sweden. We made many stops and we’ll do the same on the way back. As for the battle of the Solbergs, if I was the father I’d let my son win, but Petter clearly has other ideas. Sounds like they’ll need therapy in their car home…”




Mick Schumacher, Mercedes F1 reserve driver, F2 Champion (Team Germany)

“It’s good to be back at the Race Of Champions. We hope this year will a bit better than last year. Hopefully we will be able to repeat what we did in Mexico and get to the final, or even go a spot higher and take that big trophy home. From what I’ve seen today and yesterday we’re a bit better prepared compared to last year, so I think everyone else should be careful! But there are some tough competitors and I know Valtteri has been doing a lot of rallying in general, so hopefully Team eROC can kick out Team Finland before they get to us.”

Mattias Ekström, double DTM and World Rallycross Champion (Team Sweden)

“To team up with Johan is like having your hardest ever competitor alongside you. Here the more driving you get on Saturday, the better you are on Sunday. So my ego will tell me to share everything with him on Saturday morning, then on Sunday? Nothing. Last year I made a mistake in the semi-final against Sébastien Loeb, which was especially disappointing because it means he as one more ROC Champion of Champions titles than me. But this is a new weekend and anyone can win here. It’s about putting together that perfect lap when you need it. I won the ROC Nations Cup once before for Team Scandinavia with Tom Kristensen in Paris but it would be great to take a first ever ROC Nations Cup win for Team Sweden. I don’t think Team Germany deserve any more wins, they have too many already…”

Johan Kristoffersson, five-time World Rallycross Champion (Team Sweden)

“It’s really nice to be invited to this event and I’m happy to be teaming up with Mattias for the first time ever. We’ve always been competitors so driving together at last will be fun. Let’s see if I can finally squeeze out some tips and tricks from him. You are full of confidence when you arrive here and you want to do well, but you get humbled pretty quickly when you see the names of the other competitors you’re up against. There are so many nice guys here and it’s enjoyable to be on the track, in the locker room and spending time together in the evenings. So you try to enjoy yourself but you enjoy it even more if the results are good.”

Travis Pastrana, extreme sports great, Nitro Rallycross Champion (Team USA)

“It’s great to be here, and my back is not broken this year so I’m even more happy. I’m not a huge fan of the cold but I love driving on the ice. My favourite car is the FC1-X which we raced in Nitro Rallycross this year. It’s our first electric vehicle and it has over 1000bhp, which is more traction and more power than anything you’ve ever driven. Tanner is used to being super sideways in rallying and everything else, so here’s hoping Team USA can get somewhere. But frankly to beat Mattias Ekström at anything would be fantastic – maybe ping pong tonight? Then Tanner just needs to find some way to beat Johan Kristoffersson…”

Tanner Foust, McLaren Extreme E driver, rallycross and drift ace (Team USA)

“I’m super happy to be back here. I’ve done the Race Of Champions three times before, but all in stadiums. So this is my first ‘outside’ event. It’s great to see a bit more speed, and it’s interesting that more than half of the cars are electric. I especially enjoy the rallycross car, which has a huge amount of grip at the front so you can be super committed. Watching practice all the drivers are so precise, so the speed will be so close from person to person and it will be a great battle. As for the mind games? They started a year ago…”

Valtteri Bottas, 10-time F1 grand prix winner (Team Finland)

“It’s great to be here at the Race Of Champions. Last year I really wanted to do it but I had some team commitments that weekend. Yesterday I had a few laps of the track and I really enjoyed it. I love Lapland. I’m from the south of Finand but I have a cabin as far as North you can get, so I love all sports related to snow – and if you get to drive on snow all the better. I did the Arctic Rally in 2019 and 2020 so I hope that experience helps this weekend. And if you had told me as a kid that I would be racing with my childhood hero, Mika Hakkinen, I wouldn’t have believed it. He tells great stories, even if they can be a bit long. In fact I’m still waiting to hear how they end…”

Tom Kristensen, nine-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner (Team Nordic)

“This is my 17th Race Of Champions and I’ve loved every one of them. My first one was in Gran Canaria and I’ve been in stadiums everywhere from Barbados to Beijing, London and Miami. Here it’s a bit colder for the morning runs but I still wore shorts; my wife told me travel light, so… I have won the ROC Nations Cup before and now I have a young, greedy hotshot next to me in Felix. We are up against some amazing competitors including two Swedes with rather more experience of these conditions, but we’ll try. They’re strong competitors, but so are we. The main thing here is to stay away from people like Petter, Mika and DC in the evenings. If you want an early night make sure they don’t see you sneak away because they will come and find you…”

Felix Rosenqvist, IndyCar race winner (Team Nordic)

“I’m a Race Of Champions rookie so I’ve got a lot to learn and I’m trying to take in everything. It’s great to be hanging around with these legends and people I’ve looked up to my whole life like Tom, Mika and Travis. But in the end we all come from the same background, trying to go fast, so you see yourself in everyone. They all think I have a lot of experience but I’m from 17 hours south of here. Even though I’m Swedish I’ve only had ever one day of ice racing, on a Porsche experience last year. Then there was the time my Mum took me onto a frozen lake when I was young so we could do handbrake turns in the family car…”




David Coulthard, winner of 13 F1 grands prix (Team GB)

“I’m happy to be here and I’m looking forward to the ice baths and all that stuff. I certainly wasn’t seen coming in at 4.30 this morning; I take this very serously and I want to get my name on that trophy again… There’s a nice flow to the track and the jump is pretty impressive. I was feeling I was doing OK slipping and sliding around – until I had contact with one of the concrete barriers. There are some amazing competitors here, so Jamie and I might have a tough time. I saw one of the Team Germany cars absolutely ripping it round one corner – and Team Germany will be one of the easier ones; it’s the others I’m worried about.”

Jamie Chadwick, triple W Series Champion (Team GB)

“On the track I haven’t driven all the cars yet but the electric rallycross car is certainly good fun. But with the way the track has been laid out this year, it’s a lot of fun in all the cars. Off track we went out on a run this morning. It was an early start, which wasn’t my first choice. It was cold too – and I wasn’t in shorts and a T-shirt like Seb and Tom. They had their logic, but that’s not for me. At least it wasn’t as cold as last year, when they went out and it was minus 15 degrees. I wisely opted out of that one. After a warm-up like that I can look forward to the rest of the weekend.”

Adrien Tambay, 2022 eTouring Car World Cup Champion (Team France)

“First I’m really honoured to be here and I’m feeling really humble to see all these names. I went for a run this morning with Sebastian Vettel, and it’s so nice to share stories about different disciplines of motorsport. I hope I can be a good surprise, fighting against guys with all the experience on ice. It doesn’t make it easy for us circuit guys. In the ROC Nations Cup I’ll admit I’ve been relying on my secret weapon Sébastien Loeb, who was a childhood hero of mine. It’s pressure but a relief to have someone like him on my side. He was delayed in France today so he’s flying in tomorrow by helicopter just before the race. But he’ll probably be even more excited than if he’d done all the preparation – and if anyone can get away without practice, it’s Sébastien Loeb.”

Felipe Drugovich, 2022 FIA F2 Champion (Team All Stars)

“On Monday I was in Brazil and it was over 30 degrees, so this is quite a contrast; I’m feeling a bit cold. But I’m really enjoying it and it’s such a pleasure to be up against so many great drivers. This is my first time driving on ice, so it’s different but it’s really fun. I’m still struggling a bit, trying to put the car sideways in the right way. At least I have Thierry Neuville with me on Team All Stars, so I’ve been asking him for tips the whole week. Other than him you’re never quite sure if people are always telling you the right things, so you need to exercise a bit of judgement. I’m one of the youngest here – indeed Mika Hakkinen retired from F1 the year after I was born...”

Thierry Neuville, winner of 17 WRC rallies (Team All Stars)

“It’s taken me a while to get to the Race Of Champions, and I’m really happy to be here. This is a great chance for me to have fun and meet new people, and it’s definitely a good warm-up for Rally Sweden next month. There’s a bit of pressure but not the same level that we usually have. I grew up close to the German border in Belgium so I’ve always been a big supporter of Sebastian Vettel and meeting him is a great pleasure. But the drivers here are all the same and there’s a lot that we can share. Since school we’ve all had a passion for motorsport. It’s not easy to get where we are now but somehow we all made it this far. Now I’m happy to be flying the Belgian flag here.”

Jarno Opmeer, double F1 Esports Pro Series Champion (Team eROC)

“It’s a pity I couldn’t quite retain my eROC title but I won it last year and now it’s the other way round. Lucas was just faster, it was as simple as that. So at least Lucas and I have now both got one of each trophy. And Lucas was fast on the real track last year as well, so we will try to use today’s practice to get up to speed before we get into the car tomorrow. We’re both inexperienced, especially at driving in the rallycross cars, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Lucas Blakeley, F1 Esports Pro Series Champion (Team eROC)

“It’s surreal even just to be back here at the Race Of Champions. My first appearance here last year was a massive privilege, and one that I tried to savour because you don’t know if you’ll ever get a chance to experience something like that in life. Obviously last year I was the runner-up in the eROC World Final so I wanted to redeem myself, and to get the bigger trophy this year means everything. Now to be taking part in the ROC Nations Cup is amazing. Last year was one of the most scary and exhilarating experiences of my entire life. Hopefully we’ll get a bit of practice today as we definitely need it…”

You can watch ROC Sweden LIVE all over the world on networks including SVT1 and SVT Play (Sweden), C More Max and Cmore.fi (Finland), NRK (Norway), Canal + (France, French-speaking countries, Switzerland and Poland), Sky Sports (UK, Ireland), ViaPlay (Denmark, Iceland), Ziggo (Netherlands), TV3 (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), OTE (Greece), Cablenet (Cyprus), MavTV (USA), REV TV (Canada), Star + OTT - Disney (Latin America), Fox 3 (Mexico), Supersport (Africa - English speaking), Canal + and Supersport (Africa), Astro (Malaysia, Brunei) and HK-Cable (Hong Kong). In all other countries the live stream will be available on the Race Of Champions official YouTube channel.


Keep up with all the latest news at www.raceofchampions.com, Race Of Champions on Facebook and @raceofchampions on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok. The official hashtag for the event is #ROCSweden.



ROC Nations Cup Draw (Saturday 28 January)


Round 1

Team FINLAND (Mika Hakkinen & Valtteri Bottas)

v

Team eROC (Lucas Blakeley & Jarno Opmeer)


Team GB (David Coulthard & Jamie Chadwick)

v

Team GERMANY (Sebastian Vettel & Mick Schumacher)


Quarter-finals

Team NORWAY (Petter Solberg & Oliver Solberg)

v

Team FRANCE (Sébastien Loeb & Adrien Tambay)


Team SWEDEN (Johan Kristoffersson & Mattias Ekström)

v

Team NORDIC (Tom Kristensen & Felix Rosenqvist)


Team USA (Travis Pastrana & Tanner Foust)

v

Team ALL STARS (Felipe Drugovich & Thierry Neuville)


Team FINLAND or Team eROC

v

Team GB or Team GERMANY



Race Of Champions Draw (Sunday 29 January)


Round 1

Adrien TAMBAY v David COULTHARD

Felix ROSENQVIST v Mick SCHUMACHER


Round of 16

Mika HAKKINEN v Felipe DRUGOVICH

TAMBAY or COULTHARD v ROSENQVIST or SCHUMACHER

Valtteri BOTTAS v Tom KRISTENSEN

Sebastian VETTEL v Jamie CHADWICK

Sébastien LOEB v Thierry NEUVILLE

Petter SOLBERG v Oliver SOLBERG

Johan KRISTOFFERSSON v Tanner FOUST

Travis PASTRANA v Mattias EKSTRÖM

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