The Race of Champions' 2004 winner, Heikki Kovalainen, who took a sensational second place from 11th on the grid in the Japanese GP, has confirmed his participation in this year's event at Wembley Stadium. The result in Japan was the best of the...
The Race of Champions' 2004 winner, Heikki Kovalainen, who took a sensational second place from 11th on the grid in the Japanese GP, has confirmed his participation in this year's event at Wembley Stadium.
The result in Japan was the best of the Renault F1 driver's top-flight career and the reigning world champion team's first podium this season, although his performance against Michael Schumacher in The Race of Champions 2004 is still a highlight for Kovalainen.
"Beating Michael was a very nice thing for me," said the Finn, who had won the World Series by Nissan at the time. "I remember watching him race against Ayrton Senna when I was still in karts so to beat him on a level playing field was quite unbelievable and the reaction from all the fans in the stadium when I climbed on the roof of the car was incredible!
"Driving so close to so many fans creates a very special atmosphere and I'm really looking forward to race in Wembley Stadium. Last year I lost in the finals by just 0,0002 seconds against Sweden's Mattias Ekstrom who went on to win The Race of Champions, so I'm really motivated to try to take back the title I won in 2004."
December 16 will see Wembley Stadium transformed into a tarmac race track to enable the world's best drivers to compete head-to-head in The Race of Champions. Every member of the expected 80,000-strong crowd will have an unhindered view of the entire track, on which drivers will compete using identical equipment.
The gladiatorial event is by invitation only and with drivers from F1, rally, NASCAR, Le Mans 24 and touring cars on the guest list the racing is set to be spectacular.
There are two competitions: The Race of Champions, where drivers compete for individual glory, and The Nations Cup, where drivers partner up to compete for their home country. Kovalainen will reform last year's winning Finnish team with double World Rally Champion Marcus Gronholm and hopes to repeat their success at Wembley.
"Winning for your nation is something very rare in motorsport," said Kovalainen. "It's great to represent Finland who has so many great drivers and motorsport is so popular. We will do everything we can do defend the title for Finland together with Marcus."