Over the course of its three decades of history, the Race of Champions has been held in various locations around the world. Following over a decade in the Canary Islands, the annual event was held for three years at the Stade de France, then two years at London's Wembley Stadium before moving to Beijing and on to Düsseldorf, Germany, last year.
This year's race was scheduled to take place at the Commerzbank-Arena in Frankfurt, but a change in the venue's soccer calendar has forced the race to change locations. The team that plays its home games at the stadium was relegated to the Bundesliga (union football league) second division, resulting in a scheduling conflict for both the race's primary and back-up dates.
Event organizers have yet to announce a new location, however they've indicated that the race will still take place somewhere in Germany, whose four-time Nations' Cup defending champions Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel – F1 champs both – are both confirmed to follow the race wherever it goes. Follow the jump for the official announcement, and stay tuned for details of the new venue.
New location for 2011 Race Of Champions
- The 24th Race Of Champions will not be held at Frankfurt's Commerzbank-Arena on December 3-4 as previously announced
- ROC 2011 will still take place in December at another German venue but a late fixture clash with Germany's football Bundesliga has forced this change
- Fans who have bought tickets for Frankfurt will have a choice of being reimbursed in full or a special offer when the new venue is confirmed
Frankfurt's Commerzbank-Arena is to be replaced as the host of the 2011 Race Of Champions as a result of a late clash of dates with the Bundesliga football season, which is announcing its latest schedule today (June 21).
The change is due to an unfortunate combination of circumstances since Frankfurt's stadium was announced in April as the host for ROC 2011. Football team Eintracht Frankfurt, which plays its home games at the Commerzbank-Arena, was relegated to the Bundesliga second division in May so their season now starts two weeks earlier. The final of the FIFA Women's World Cup is also taking place at the stadium on July 17 so the team must start the season with an away game. Furthermore, riots at the final game of last season mean special care has been taken with their fixtures. The result is that Eintracht Frankfurt will host home football games both on the scheduled race weekend (December 3-4) and its backup (December 10-11).
Race organisers wish to extend their sincere apologies to the thousands of fans who have already ordered tickets for the event in Frankfurt. By way of recompense for the inconvenience, every Frankfurt ticket-holder will be entitled either to a full refund or to a special offer when the new venue is announced.
In recent years the Race Of Champions has visited the Stade de France in Paris (2004-2006), London's Wembley Stadium (2007-2008) and Beijing's 'Bird's Nest' Olympic Stadium (2009). Following last year's event at Düsseldorf's ESPRIT arena, the event is returning to Germany in 2011 as Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel head ROC's line-up of motorsport legends in front of their home fans.
Race organiser Fredrik Johnsson said: "This news came through very late and it was a total surprise for us. So our first priority is to find the best possible alternative venue and to apologise to all the race fans who have made plans to join us in Frankfurt. They will have a choice of a special offer to compensate them or to be reimbursed in full if they cannot join us at the new venue. We hope to announce the replacement shortly and we can assure everyone that the Race Of Champions will still be held in Germany in December. We've checked with the drivers and both Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher have confirmed that they will be with us regardless."
Patrik Meyer, Managing Director of German promoters TSP, said: "We're sorry that such an unfortunate sequence of events conspired against the race in Frankfurt. But now we will do everything to find the best possible replacement venue as soon as we can. We will aim to ensure the 2011 Race Of Champions remains a special occasion to round off the year for race fans both from Germany and outside."
The Race Of Champions is an annual end-of-season competition that brings together the world's greatest drivers from all motor sport's disciplines – including Formula 1, world rally, touring cars, Le Mans and NASCAR – and sets them free to battle head-to-head in identical machinery.
Further information about tickets and refunds for Frankfurt ticket-holders will be found at the website www.raceofchampions.com as soon as the new venue is announced.
The full driver line-up for the 2010 Race Of Champions was:
Sebastian VETTEL, 2010 Formula 1 World Champion
Michael SCHUMACHER, Seven-time Formula 1 World Champion
Alain PROST, Four-time Formula 1 World Champion
Sébastien LOEB, Seven-time World Rally Champion
Mick DOOHAN, Five-time World 500cc Motorcycling Champion
Tanner FOUST, 2010 X-Games rally and rallycross gold medallist
Heikki KOVALAINEN, Formula 1 grand prix winner
Tom KRISTENSEN, Eight-time Le Mans 24-Hour race winner
Andy PRIAULX, Three-time World Touring Car Champion
Jason PLATO, Two-time British Touring Car Champion
Alvaro PARENTE, GP2 race winner & winner ROC South Europe 2010
Filipe ALBUQUERQUE, A1GP race winner & winner ROC South Europe 2010
Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN, Two-time Porsche Supercup Champion
Bertrand BAGUETTE, 2009 World Series by Renault Champion
Carl EDWARDS, 2007 NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion
Travis PASTRANA, Eleven-time X-Games gold medallist