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22/11/2017 - 20:41hs

Motor racing stars to compete in Riyadh

The Middle East will host, for the first time, the Race of Champions, on February 2 and 3, 2018, in the Saudi capital. Names such as Montoya, Castroneves, Coulthard and Kristensen are already confirmed.

São Paulo – Stars of international auto racing will compete for the first time in Saudi Arabia. The organizers of the Race of Champions (ROC) announced this Wednesday (22) the first confirmed drivers for the event, which will be held in Riyadh on February 2 and 3, 2018. ROC is an annual event that gather competitors from some of the world’s main categories to race head-to-head in identical cars.

Press Release

Castroneves (R) beats German Sebastian Vettel this year in Miami

Among the names announced are Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya – ROC’s current Champion of Champions, former Formula 1 driver, 1999 IndyCar champion and twice the winner of the Indianapolis 500, and currently a member of the Penske team in the North American sports car championship of the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) – and Brazilian Hélio Castroneves, three times winner of Indianapolis 500 and that in 2018 will also race for Penske in the IMSA championship, the team he raced with at IndyCar until this year.

IndyCar’s current champion, North American Josef Newgarden, is another confirmed name, as well as his fellow citizen Ryan Hunter-Reay, an IndyCar champion in 2012 and a Indianapolis 500 winner in 2014, plus Danish Tom Kristensen, nine times winner of the legendary race 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“I’ve spent eight months in Saudi Arabia with my family when I was a teenager because my Dad worked there, so it will be interesting to come back,” said Kristensen, according to an organization’s press release.

Also worth mentioning are the names of Norwegian Petter Solberg, world rally champion in 2003 and twice the winner of the FIA World Rallycross Championship, Scottish David Coulthard, former Formula 1 driver, and Englishman Lando Norris, current European Formula 3 champion that just signed a contract as the reserve driver of McLaren in Formula 1. Other participants will be announced soon.

Press Release

Montoya (L) beats Kristensen in Miami

The competition will take place in a track specially built at the King Fahd International Stadium in the Saudi capital. The place seats 75,000 people and, according to the organizers, will be a “family event”, that is, open to men, women and children.

Recently, the Saudi government authorized the presence of women in stadiums, after it announced that women will be allowed to drive in the country starting in 2018. These are measures that softens in part the rigid regime in Saudi Arabia, which is based on Wahhabism, a ultra-conservative doctrine of Sunni Islam.

The realization itself of an event of this type in the country is a signal of a liberation movement headed by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. “With women able to drive in Saudi Arabia in 2018, we feel this is an auspicious moment to be bringing a motorsport event to Riyadh,” said Fredrik Johnsson, ROC’s president, in a statement. It’s the first time that the competition takes place in the Middle East.

The two days of competition will host races with different types of cars, such as sports, prototype, roll cage, stock cars, rallycross, among others. In the first day, there will be a Nations Cup, with pairs of pilots from the same nationality competing head-to-head. There will be a Saudi Arabia team. In the second day, the Race of Champions take place, with pilots competing solo.

Information about the event: www.raceofchampions.com

*Translated by Sérgio Kakitani

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