At the end of a hard year of racing, drivers like to relax with a little challenge. A head-to-head competition in equal cars around a circuit laid inside Wembley Stadium. The Race of Champions.
The 2008 event happens tomorrow and the draw has been made for both the Nations Cup and for the main event, the Race of Champions. Britain gets two teams, presumably as the host nation.
You have to take this loosely, some Nations aren’t really nations, some Champions aren’t really champions. Don’t let that spoil it because this is a varied and eclectic line-up.
Heat 1: France vs Scandinavia*
Heat 2: USA vs Autosport Team GB
Heat 3: F1 Racing GB vs All Stars**
Heat 4: Germany vs Ireland
* Sweden and Denmark.
** The All Stars team was formerly Australia, however Mark Webber broke his leg and his place was taken by the Spanish champion of this year’s British F3 series, Jaime Alguersuari.
Each heat is a ‘best of 3’ and each team has 2 drivers.
Race of Champions
Gareth McHale (rally) vs David Coulthard (F1)
Adam Carroll (GP2, A1GP) vs Mattias Ekstrom (DTM, reiging ROC champ)
Tom Kristensen (Le Mans, DTM) vs Michael Schumacher (F1)
Jason Plato (BTCC) vs Andy Priaulx (WTCC)
Tanner Foust (drifting) vs Jenson Button (F1)
Troy Bayliss (Superbikes) vs Sebastian Vettel (F1)
Jaime Alguersuari (F3) vs Carl Edwards (NASCAR)
Yvan Muller (WTCC) vs Sebastien Loeb (World Rally)
Each heat is a ‘best of 3’. Tanner Foust is in because Travis Pastrana, star of last year’s event, got injured messing with a motorcross bike during the week. And as mentioned above, Mark Webber is out after injuring himself in an endurance event he organised.
You can watch the ROC live on Sunday from 13:50 GMT (14:50 CET) at RaceOfChampions.com and simulcast at a variety of websites including Autosport and Pitpass.
In Britain it will be live on Sky Sports Extra and Sky Sports 3 HD (later there is delayed coverage on British Eurosport).
Across Europe it’ll be live on Eurosport International.
Fans in the US can see it live on Discovery HD.
Further coverage details.
The Nations Cup begins at 14:30 GMT, the Race of Champions gets under way at 17:30 GMT. Each competition is scheduled for two hours and there will be activities before and between the events.
I was at Wembley last year. It was a little over-priced, it was hard to see the drivers, there were big gaps in the crowd and it was VERY cold.
But there were solid reasons for all of these and the organisers have worked to overcome them this year. The new KTM X-Bow is open-topped so you can see the drivers more easily. The prices are lower this year. And the newly-rebuilt Wembley is frikkin’ HUGE (it looks great at night) – you can’t expect to fill a place that size first time out. I hope word of mouth and the lower prices make for increased attendance. I’m not going, I said last year it wasn’t worth going to it every year. Now I kind of wish I was.
You can see my 2007 photos here.