Team France will have one of the most dynamic line-ups at the Race Of Champions in 2011 as World Rally Championship title hopeful Sébastien Ogier joins forces with GP2 series champion Romain Grosjean, according to raceofchampions.com.
The pairing marks a departure from last year, when Team France was represented by seven-time world rally champion Sébastien Loeb – who reached the individual ROC Grand Final yet again – and four-time F1 world champion Alain Prost. But both Ogier and Grosjean have shaken up their respective series this year, showing that France has a big future in both racing and rallying.
Ogier has taken a total of five WRC victories, more than any other driver, including Rallye Deutschland. Such a haul leaves him firmly in the title mix with two rallies left, just three points behind his Citroën team-mate and ROC regular Loeb. Grosjean has meanwhile dominated the GP2 series with five wins and five other podiums, leaving him in line for a return to Formula 1 in 2012. That form has earned the French duo their first invitations to the Race Of Champions, where they will also pool their ability on behalf of their country in the ROC Nations Cup.
Ogier said: “It’s a real honour to participate in the Race Of Champions. I’ve followed it since it was in Gran Canaria and I can’t wait to find out all the cars we will be driving this year. It will be nice to team up with Romain too: he is a very good driver and he has had an almost perfect season in GP2. I’m very happy with my year too but now my goal is to try and gain a championship one day. It’s still possible this year so I’ll do my best at the two last rallies. If I have the chance to win, I’ll try to get it. Needless to say a WRC/ROC double would be the perfect end to my year…”
Grosjean added: “2011 has been a very special season for me thanks to my GP2 series title – and there is no better way to cap it off than to make my Race Of Champions debut. I’ve seen the event a few times and it’s great to have the chance to race against the best in the world from so many different spheres of motor sport. I’m especially looking forward to joining up with Sébastien for Team France. French drivers have a good ROC record and hopefully our blend of racing and rally experience means that we can keep that up in December.”
ROC race organiser Fredrik Johnsson said: “This is a very different line-up for Team France compared to last year when we had their two greatest multiple champions in Alain Prost and Sébastien Loeb. They both have clashing commitments this year but this new pair shows the strength in depth of French motor sport right now. Sébastien and Romain have set the world’s rally stages and racetracks alight in 2011 and we’re sure they’ll do the same inside the ROC stadium in December.”
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.
Drivers confirmed so far for ROC 2011 include F1 world champions Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button. Plenty more big names will be added in the run-up to the event at Düsseldorf in December. For information about tickets (starting from €19) please visit the website www.raceofchampions.com.
Drivers already 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
Mattias EKSTROM, DTM star and triple ROC Champion of Champions
Travis PASTRANA, Four-time Rally America winner and X-Games legend
Romain GROSJEAN, 2011 GP2 Series Champion
Sébastien OGIER, 2011 World Rally Championship title contender
– Credit: www.raceofchampions.com.