Motor sport legends ready for the Race Of Champions

Bangkok is swarming with motor sport greats after the first group of international drivers arrived in the city ahead of this weekend’s Race Of Champions,including Jorge Lorenzo, Mick Doohan, Jamie Whincup, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Benito Guerra and...

Many of the world’s greatest drivers have arrived at Bangkok’s Rajamangala Stadium ahead of this weekend’s ROC 2012 – and it didn’t take long for the banter to start.

Story Highlights

  • Bangkok is swarming with motor sport greats after the first group of international drivers arrived in the city ahead of this weekend’s Race Of Champions
  • Champions including Jorge Lorenzo, Mick Doohan, Jamie Whincup, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Benito Guerra and Sébastien Ogier faced the media at the Rajamangala Stadium
  • Touring car great Andy Priaulx summed it up: “Don’t believe any of these drivers. They’re not here for fun, they’re here to win.”
  • Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen agreed: “After the way Andy drove a tuk tuk today in Bangkok I can say he’s already on it…”

The Race Of Champions, which is being staged for the 25th consecutive year in 2012, brings together the world’s greatest drivers from motor sport’s main disciplines – including Formula 1, world rally, touring cars, Le Mans, MotoGP, IndyCar and the X-Games – and sets them free to battle head-to-head in identical machinery.

A dazzling line-up of international superstars including multiple F1 world champions Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel plus multiple MotoGP world champions Mick Doohan and Jorge Lorenzo will compete in Saturday’s ROC Nations Cup and Sunday’s individual Race Of Champions.

Ahead of this weekend’s events the first group of international drivers faced the media at the Rajamangala Stadium. Here’s what they said:

Jorge Lorenzo (Team All Stars): “This is my first time here at the Race Of Champions so thank you for the invitation to compete with these extraordinary champions – most of them on four wheels.

Mick and I are the only two-wheel experts so it will be an interesting test to see how we do. I compete on four wheels sometimes, like the recent rally of Monza, so this is a great chance to ask them questions to improve my driving skills.

I’m really looking forward to racing but I also hope to keep learning, improving and to enjoy the atmosphere.”

Rajamangala Stadium
Rajamangala Stadium

Photo by: Race of Champions

Tom Kristensen (Team All Stars): “It’s fantastic to be here and really nice to come to the Rajamangala Stadium. It’s an honour for me to be racing with Jorge Lorenzo in the ROC Nations Cup.

We’ve just had a brief chat and I can say for 100 percent that he is faster on four wheels than I am on two! He’s certainly not afraid of anything and I’m sure the skill he’s shown on two wheels this year will transfer to four wheels here.

I have huge respect for him and Mick Doohan and I hope to learn a bit about the limit on two wheels too. Everyone here has done a lot in their own field but after the way Andy Priaulx drove a tuk tuk today in Bangkok I can say he’s already on it…”

Jamie Whincup (Team Australia): “It means a lot to be here at the Race Of Champions. I had an invitation a few years ago but I wasn’t able to do it and I’ve been kicking myself ever since.

Now I intend to make the most of it both on and off the track – but I’m a ROC virgin this year so my expectations are quite low. I’ve been very sheltered down in Australia doing my own thing so I haven’t driven four-wheel drive or front-wheel drive cars at any speed at all.

But I’m looking forward to giving it a go. It’s great to meet all these guys, I hope to have a lot of fun and I’ll do the best I can.”

Mick Doohan (Team Australia): “It’s good to be back at the Race Of Champions. It’s a great event and it’s great to be in Thailand. Asia’s where it’s all happening in motor sport at the moment and it’s not far from Australia for Jamie and me.

Practice action
Practice action

Photo by: Race of Champions

This is also big motorcycling territory so Jorge and I will hopefully have a lot of support. I’m looking forward to getting out there and having some fun.

I just wish I could have been doing some sort of racing to prepare – either on four wheels or two – but I haven’t done a great deal. It’s a real privilege to drive with Jamie. Hopefully I won’t let him down on Saturday and he can drag Team Australia through for us.”

Sébastien Ogier (Team France): “Last year it was amazing for me to win the Race Of Champions on my first visit – and of course I’m very happy to be here again.

This year there are again plenty of great drivers here so I’m sure it will be good fun to compete in this race once more. All of us have proved we are very fast in all the different categories.

It’s nice to meet all these drivers – and bikers too. There are MotoGP world champions here and I’m sure they can also do good things with a steering wheel too.”

Benito Guerra (Team Americas): “This is my first Race Of Champions and it’s amazing to be here with all these great drivers – a dream come true. I follow all types of motor sport so all of them are my heroes.

When I heard the news that I was coming it was 2am in Mexico and I woke up my Dad to tell him the news. The race itself is a bit like a super special stage for us rally drivers.

I’ve been in Bangkok since Tuesday so I’ve been getting to know the city, which is much bigger than I imagined. It’s very nice and my first impression of Thailand and the people is that everyone is very nice.

So thanks to all the people working here who have given us a very good welcome to this amazing city.”

Narain Karthikeyan
Narain Karthikeyan

Photo by: Race of Champions

Andy Priaulx (Team Great Britain): “It’s an absolute honour for us all to have the chance to drive with these legends. It’s great fun as well, it’s nice to drive the cars and we all enjoy it. But don’t believe any of these drivers.

They’re not here for fun, they’re here to win – and you don’t want to race any of these guys as they’re all good. One thing I learned many times is that you can do well, get to the final then get beaten by the Germans! It’s also very easy to find yourself going home early.

So if I could offer any advice to the newcomers I’d recommend plenty of partying the night before, lots of alcohol and all the wrong food. Don’t take any interest in the event, best to just rock up and drive…”

Ryan Hunter-Reay (Team Americas):

“It’s great to be here in Bangkok. It’s my first time here in Thailand and it’s my first Race Of Champions. It’s a tremendous honour to share the stage with these guys and this amount of talent.

So I just want to take it all in and hopefully surprise a few people. But I haven’t driven four-wheel drive cars before so this is all pretty different from IndyCar. I have an open-minded approach so I’ll see what comes and go with it.

Mostly this is a learning experience and I will definitely be following Andy’s advice! I’m looking forward to that actually – I’ll have a lot of fun…”

ROC 2012 begins with Friday’s ROC Thailand and ROC Asia, followed by the ROC Nations Cup on Saturday and the Race Of Champions itself on Sunday.

Coverage of Saturday’s ROC Nations Cup and Sunday’s Race Of Champions will be available on television all over the world. Stations showing ROC live include SAT1 in Germany, Motors TV throughout Europe, Al Jazeera in the Middle East, Fox in Latin America and Brazil, Speed TV in Australia, the Sony Entertainment Network in India, PPTV and Euro Soccer channel in China, Super Sport in Africa plus many more. Please check local listings for exact details of broadcast times.

Race of Champions

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Tags bangkok, doohan, general, guerra, hunter-reay, kristensen, lorenzo, ogier, rajamangala, roc, whincup