New track concept for London's Race of Champions
At the 2015 Race of Champions, which will take place at London’s former Olympic Stadium this weekend (November 20-21), new track concept will be launched. At previous ROC events the head-to-head battles in identical cars had been raced side-by-side on a parallel track linked by a crossover bridge. That former will be converted to cycling-style pursuit race on an all-new track that is wider, faster and more spectacular.
Each driver will start from a point halfway around the track from their rival. To rev up the tension even further, the track has been designed so the two racers will start next to each other but facing in opposite directions. At the green light they will speed off in a bid to hunt each other down, with the ROC arch lighting up to show who’s in front at each split. It all builds up to the big finish – again approached from opposite ends – where there can only be one winner, often decided only by fractions of a second. The traditional knockout format will otherwise stay the same for both the ROC Nations Cup and the individual Race Of Champions.
ROC president Fredrik Johnsson said: “We are always keen to innovate at the Race Of Champions and this new racing format is the latest example. In honour of our visit to London’s former Olympic Stadium we are launching a pursuit-style race. The tight finishes and tension this generates will be familiar to British sports fans from Olympic cycling – but motor sport takes this concept to even higher speeds.
“The new format will allow us to build a wider, more spectacular and versatile circuit than ever before. With identical cars the emphasis remains firmly on driver skill alone and the finishes will be as close as ever, with races often decided only by fractions of a second. The crowds at the former Olympic Stadium are in for a treat as some of the world’s greatest drivers hunt each other down all the way to the chequered flag.”
The Race Of Champions is an annual end-of-season contest which has been running from 1988. Originally it was the competition between the best rally drivers, but during years ROC became the event which brings together some of the world’s greatest drivers from various motorsport disciplines and sets them free to battle head-to-head in identical machinery.
The first day (Firday) is reserved for Nations Cup, with ten teams fighting for the title of ‘World’s Fastest Nation’. Then on the Saturday afternoon it’s time for the Race Of Champions itself. The 2015 field features F1 drivers Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Romain Grosjean, Nico Hülkenberg, Felipe Massa and Jolyon Palmer, ‘Mr Le Mans’ Tom Kristensen, reigning World RX Champion Petter Solberg, reigning Formula E Champion Nelson Piquet Jr, reigning WTCC Champion José Maria López, reigning DTM Champion Pascal Wehrlein, 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, triple WTCC Champion Andy Priaulx, Williams Martini Racing’s Official Test Driver Susie Wolff, double BTCC Champion Jason Plato, Blancpain Endurance Series Champion Alex Buncombe, ROC Champion of Champions David Coulthard plus MotoGP world champions Jorge Lorenzo and Mick Doohan.
Here’s the schedule for Friday (start at 20.00 local time):
Team ALL STARS v Team YOUNG STARS (Match A)
Romain Grosjean v Pascal Wehrlein
Jorge Lorenzo v Jolyon Palmer
Team ENGLAND 1 v Team BRAZIL (Match B)
Andy Priaulx v Nelson Piquet Jr
Jason Plato v Felipe Massa
Team NORDIC v Team AMERICAS (Match A)
Tom Kristensen v Jose Maria Lopez
Petter Solberg v Ryan Hunter-Reay
Team AUSTRALIA v Team GERMANY
Daniel Ricciardo v Sebastian Vettel
Mick Doohan v Nico Hülkenberg
Team ENGLAND 2 v Team SCOTLAND
Alex Buncombe v Susie Wolff
Jenson Button v David Coulthard
Winner Match A v Winner Match B
Romain Grosjean/Pascal Wehrlein v Andy Priaulx/Nelson Piquet Jr
Jorge Lorenzo/Jolyon Palmer v Jason Plato/Felipe Massa
All matches are best-of-three, with the two winning drivers racing in the third heat if required. After the quarter-finals it’s a straight knockout tournament with further best-of-three matches leading to the semi-finals and the final.
Schedule for Saturday (start 15.00 local time)
José Maria López v Ryan Hunter-Reay (Match A)
Pascal Wehrlein v Andy Priaulx (Match B)
Mick Doohan v Jorge Lorenzo (Match C)
Alex Buncombe v Jolyon Palmer (Match D)
Sebastian Vettel v Petter Solberg
Daniel Ricciardo v Nico Hülkenberg
Jenson Button v Felipe Massa
David Coulthard v Susie Wolff
Tom Kristensen v Nelson Piquet Jr
Romain Grosjean v Jason Plato
Winner Match A (López/Hunter-Reay) v Winner Match B (Wehrlein/Priaulx)
Winner Match B (Doohan/Lorenzo) v Winner Match D (Buncombe/Palmer)