Americans may be more familiar with the International Race of Champions, IROC for short, due to that race's popularity in the '80s and '90s and for the Chevy Camaros and Dodge Daytonas affixed with the badge. In the rest of the world, though, the more popular series is called the Race of Champions, but the idea is the same. Take top drivers from various racing leagues and pit them in similar cars against each other on a number of different race tracks. This year, the ROC's organizers are testing a bunch of cars to be used for the next event, including the track-ready KTM X-Bow and a wild-sounding contraption that uses twin Suzuki Hayabusa engines driving all four wheels. The actual race will take place in London at Wembley Stadium on December 14 and will feature Tom Kristensen (Team Scandinavia), Michael Schumacher (Team Germany), Sébastien Loeb (Team France), Andy Priaulx (Team Autosport Great Britain), Troy Bayliss (Team Australia), Mattias Ekström (Team Scandinavia), Jenson Button (Team Autosport Great Britain), Mark Webber (Team Australia) and Sebastian Vettel (Team Germany).
[Source: Race of Champions]
The Race of Champions tests new cars for Wembley
* KTM X-Bow, new ROC 2-seater and Swedish ERPRO prototype assessed for use at Wembley
* Cars put through their paces on test track in Germany
Organisers of The Race of Champions have tested a range of new cars, with the view to possibly using them at this year's event at Wembley Stadium on 14 December. If selected, the world's top racers will use the machines to go head-to-head as they fight for the title of "The Champion of Champions."
A track similar to the one that will be used at Wembley was set up on an open space at Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen, Germany – one of several venues keen to host The Race of Champions in future. This gave a chance to see how the cars would perform on the unique ROC course.
First to be tested was the KTM X-Bow, before a four-wheel-drive, motorbike-engined, Swedish prototype took to the track, as did a two-seater version of the ROC car, which is exclusive to The Race of Champions. ROC creators Michele Mouton and Fredrik Johnsson, plus former European Rally Champion Marc Duez, assessed the cars' suitability.
"The X-Bow is an exciting new sportscar, it looks completely unlike anything else, and the fact that it's open means that spectators would really get to see the drivers working away in the car," said Fredrik Johnsson, President of Event Organisers IMP.
"The 4-wheel drive car was impressive – the Hayabusa engine sounds great and the car looks spectacular, especially in the wet. For all the cars that we use in the event, however, we're looking for a range of factors– they need to look good for the spectators, but also be fun to drive and easy to adapt to, as the drivers will jump straight from one to another in the event," Michele Mouton continued.
Last year Aston Martin Vantages, Ford Focus WRCs, Fiat Punto Abarths and Solution F Touring Cups joined the ROC cars at The Race of Champions, as the greatest drivers in the world competed in identical machinery. More cars are set to be tested in the coming months before the final line-up is decided.