Every Fall, the Race of Champions stands as the season's final show-down between drivers from a wide variety of motorsport disciplines. But while the last few years have seen DTM champ Mattias Ekstrom and WRC czar Sebastien Loeb alternating for the individual crown, the Nations' Cup has been won the past three years running by the German team of Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel. Against a backdrop of such international domination, it's little wonder that the event is heading back to Germany this year.
Reach way back into RoC history, and you'll discover that the second running of the event (after the Autodrome de Linas-Montlhéry outside Paris in 1988) was held in Deutschland, at nowhere less vaunted a location than the legendary Nürburgring. Since then, it was held in Barcelona and Madrid before moving to Grand Canary Island for over a decade, then back to the Parisian suburbs at the national Stade de France. The race was then held in London's Wembley Stadium before being contested overseas for the first time at the olympic Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing. This year, however, the season-capping event heads back to Europe.
The 23rd Race of Champions will be contested on November 26-27 at the Esprit Arena in Düsseldorf, a 50,000-seat soccer venue, at which the necessary tracks will be constructed. Schumacher and Vettel will be back again to defend Germany's honor in the Nations' Cup as well as challenge for the individual title of Champion of Champions less than two weeks after both finish off the Formula One season in Abu Dhabi. Video and press release after the jump.
[Source: Race of Champions]
Fri 23 April 2010
- The 23rd Race of Champions will be held on November 26-27, 2010 at Düsseldorf's covered and heated ESPRIT arena
- Home heroes Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel are the first drivers to sign up as they bid to retain the ROC Nations Cup for the 4th year in a row
Now The Race of Champions is returning to European soil and the city of Düsseldorf, to the delight of the team that has all but made the ROC Nations Cup its own.
Michael Schumacher said: 'It's going to be very exciting to see The Race of Champions in Germany, particularly as Sebastian and I have won the Nations Cup for the last three years. So this is a great opportunity and a fantastic decision from the organisers. I'm really looking forward to defending our title in front of our home crowd. In the individual event we'll all be fighting for ourselves so it will be interesting to see who does better. It's always a fun event to meet up with our colleagues but you take it seriously inside the cars.'
Sebastian Vettel is equally thrilled that The Race of Champions is returning to Germany for the first time in over 20 years – but he is well aware that the drivers from the other nations won't just lie down and let the home stars grab all the glory.
"It is special to do this kind of event in front of your home crowd," said Vettel. "It will be a unique experience and hopefully Michael and I will get a lot of support. We have a good mix of youth and experience and we'll try to defend our title but we know it won't be easy as the others are always pushing. Last year in the individual race I had a shunt in the semi-final so hopefully I can finally make it into that final and get a good result. Either way it's a great way to end the season. All the drivers always have a lot of fun together at this event, where there are always jokes behind the scenes."
The Race of Champions will take place on a specially constructed tarmac track with two parallel lanes winding their way round the Düsseldorf arena. With its capacity of over 50,000 and such local talent on show the air will already be white hot – but the stadium's roof and heating system will get its own warm reception from everyone involved...
"We race in wintertime, when it is freezing cold," adds Schumacher. "So it won't just be the fans who enjoy sitting in an indoor environment. It will warm up the temperature and the atmosphere for all of us."
Race organiser Fredrik Johnsson, who created the event in 1988 alongside Michèle Mouton, the world's most successful female rally driver, added: "After the successful events in the Bird's Nest in Beijing and Wembley Stadium, we received offers from top class venues all over the globe. But after a long selection process Germany came out on top."
"We had a very good experience in 1989 when we organised the second Race of Champions on the world's first parallel track at the Nürburgring. That had an amazing response from the German fans so we felt it was time to take the ROC back there after all these years. With Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel fighting it out in Düsseldorf's covered and heated arena the atmosphere promises to be really hot – even at the end of November..."
The Race of Champions will be promoted in Germany by TSP – The Sports Promoters. Patrik Meyer, Managing Director of TSP, said: "The timing to bring The Race of Champions to Germany could not be better and we look forward to welcoming the world's best racing drivers to Düsseldorf. We are proud to be the promoter for this outstanding motor sport and stadium event."