Portugal to stage first Race of Champions Regional Final
The Race of Champions will hold its first ever regional final this June as teams from Spain, Portugal, Italy and Monaco compete for the chance to race inside the Bird’s Nest stadium at The Race of Champions World Final, in Beijing this November.
With increasing numbers of motor sport countries keen to enter the end-of-season ROC Nations Cup, The Race of Champions South Europe, taking place at the Estádio do Dragão in Portugal on 6/7 June, will be the first of what ROC organizers expect to become several regional finals around the world in years to come.
As with The Race of Champions at Wembley Stadium and the Stade de France, an asphalt course will be built inside FC Porto’s stadium to accommodate the head-to-head, knockout racing action. Competition will start with ROC Portugal on Saturday, 6 June, when seven Portuguese racers, including A1GP star Filipe Albuquerque, rally ace Bruno Magalhaes and off-road champion Carlos Sousa, will take part in a knock-out competition to decide which three drivers will compete alongside Production World Rally Championship leader Armindo Ara£jo as Portugal battles Spain in Sunday’s ROC Iberia.
The Spanish team awaiting them will comprise double World Rally Champion, Carlos Sainz, current Citroën WRC star, Dani Sordo, 2008 British Formula 3 Champion, Jaime Alguersuari and Spanish rally star, Sergio Vallejo. The fastest unseeded driver from both Portugal and Spain will then compete alongside pre-designated team captains Sainz and Ara£jo as the Iberian teams battle Italy and Monaco in The Race of Champions South Europe. Italy will be represented by double WRC Champion, Miki Biasion and WRC star, Gigi Galli, while the Monaco team will feature A1GP star, Clivio Piccione and Emanuele Pirro, a Monaco resident for over 22 years.
On top of the team competitions, the event will also feature a ROC Legends individual contest on Saturday evening, starring past and present racing greats. As well as Sainz and Biasion, competitors will include former F1 winners, Johnny Herbert and Heinz-Harald Frentzen, five-times Moto GP World Champion, Mick Doohan, 5-time Le Mans 24 hours winner Emanuele Pirro, ex F1 driver and multiple Portuguese Rally Champion Pedro Matos Chaves, plus triple World Touring Car Champion, Andy Priaulx.
“We have had so much demand from countries and drivers to participate in The Race of Champions that we decided to launch the concept of a few Regional ROC Finals. We chose Portugal for the first Regional Final because of the enormous passion for motorsport here and the serious approach by GNI Events and FC Porto’s football Stadium,” said Fredrik Johnsson, President of IMP. GNI Events President, Ni Amorim, said of the event: “The concept of The Race of Champions is fantastic both for drivers and for the public. It’s great to have the possibility to organize the first ROC Regional Final here in Oporto. It’s a unique opportunity, mainly for Portuguese and Spanish fans, to see some of the best drivers in the world competing in identical conditions and a fantastic way to promote Portugal around the world.”