Reigning ROC Champion of Champions Filipe Albuquerque will return to defend his title at Düsseldorf’s ESPRIT arena next month.
Albuquerque shot to prominence after winning last year’s Race Of Champions at the same venue, defeating newly-crowned Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel in the semi-final before seeing off multiple world rally champion Sébastien Loeb in the best-of-three Grand Final (pictured).
Once a Red Bull protégé, the Portuguese driver’s career had appeared to have tailed off until his surprise win, as he spent 2010 racing in Italian GTs. Indeed, Albuquerque only qualified for the Race Of Champions by winning the summer’s qualifying event ROC South Europe for Portugal alongside fellow countryman Alvaro Parente.
But Albuquerque grabbed his chance with both hands and his famous victory helped earn him a seat with Audi in German touring car series DTM for 2011, where he duly took a podium at Valencia’s penultimate round. Now he will be back at ROC, hoping to pull off a double and put another mighty field to the sword. He will also pair up with F1 great David Coulthard for Team All Stars in the ROC Nations Cup.
Albuquerque said: “Last year’s Race Of Champions was a life-changing moment for me so I’m delighted to be back. From the start I was up against such good drivers – I had to beat Sebastian Vettel twice and in the final Sébastien Loeb was really on it. But I just drove my race, I made no mistakes and everything went so well. I could not have asked for more. Now I know any element of surprise will be gone so I’ll just do my best again. A little mistake can cause you to lose everything in this competition so I’ll just try to stay smooth and see what happens.”
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 the X-Games – and sets them free to battle head-to-head in identical machinery on a specially constructed parallel track. Drivers pair up for the ROC Nations Cup, this year scheduled for Saturday 3 December, before the individual Race Of Champions takes place on Sunday 4 December.
ROC race organizer Fredrik Johnsson said: “Filipe’s achievement in becoming the 2010 Champion of Champions against such a strong field was a true racing fairytale. He thrilled the crowds and I’m delighted he’s since gone from strength to strength. Of course our victor deserves an invitation to defend their title so Filipe will now have the chance to show it was no one-off by beating the world’s best all over again.”
Get the latest updates on the Race Of Champions at Twitter (@raceofchampions) and Facebook (Race Of Champions). For information about tickets (starting from €19) please visit the website www.raceofchampions.com.
Drivers confirmed for the 2011 Race Of Champions:
Sebastian VETTEL, 2010 and 2011 Formula 1 World Champion
Michael SCHUMACHER, seven-time Formula 1 World Champion
Jenson BUTTON, 2009 Formula 1 World Champion
Andy PRIAULX, three-time World Touring Car Champion
Travis PASTRANA, four-time Rally America winner and X-Games legend
Brian DEEGAN, 13 X-games medals including Rally Cross gold in 2011
Tom KRISTENSEN, eight-time Le Mans 24-Hour race winner
Mattias EKSTROM, DTM star and triple ROC Champion of Champions
Sébastien OGIER, winner of five WRC rallies in 2011
Romain GROSJEAN, 2011 GP2 Series Champion
Vitaly PETROV, Formula 1 driver for Lotus Renault GP
Timo GLOCK, Formula 1 driver for Marussia Virgin Racing
Timo SCHEIDER, 2008 and 2009 DTM Champion
Martin TOMCZYK, 2011 DTM Champion
Jan KOPECKÝ, three-time Intercontinental Rally Challenge runner-up
Juho HÄNNINEN, 2011 S-WRC champion and 2010 IRC champion
David COULTHARD, winner of 13 Formula 1 grands prix
Filipe ALBUQUERQUE, DTM star and reigning ROC Champion of Champions
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