Race of Champions: NASCAR ace Suarez to face F1 superstar Vettel
This weekend’s Race Of Champions in Mexico City will feature home heroes Daniel Suarez and Esteban Gutierrez racing against Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly respectively in Sunday’s main event.
Today’s draw at Mexico City’s Foro Sol – the iconic stadium section forming part of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez Formula 1 circuit – saw ROC Mexico Project Manager Juan Pablo Sanchez and Mexican TV presenter Giselle Zarur pick the group line-ups for the star-studded head-to-head racing extravaganza.
Recently-signed Stewart-Haas Monster Energy Cup Series racer Suarez was drawn alongside Vettel and Mexican rally star Benito Guerra in Group C, with Mick Schumacher racing off against another Mexican, sportscar star Memo Rojas, for the honour of joining them.
Former Sauber F1 racer Gutierrez will face off against Gasly and 2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Mexico’s 2018 Indy Lights champion Patricio O’Ward will battle ‘Mr Le Mans’ Tom Kristensen and 13-time grand prix winner David Coulthard, while reigning World Rallycross champion Johan Kristoffersson will face former Formula E champ Lucas di Grassi and 2017 IndyCar title-winner Josef Newgarden.
The top two from each group will progress to the quarter-finals. Then it’s a straight knockout tournament all the way to the best-of-three Grand Final, in which the ROC Champion of Champions will be crowned.
Ahead of the individual Race Of Champions, the weekend’s action will begin with Saturday’s ROC Nations Cup where national pride is at stake, with 10 teams split over three groups.
Group A features four teams (Germany, Mexico, Infinitum Mexico and France), with the top two moving on to the semi-finals. The winners of Group B (Brazil, Telcel Mexico and Sim Racing All Stars) and Group C (Nordic, GB and USA) will also progress. The knockout rounds are best-of-three: if scores are tied at 1-1 after the first two heats, the third decisive heat is always contested by the two winning drivers.
The ROC line-up was today completed by Britain’s triple World Touring Car champion Andy Priaulx, who said: “The Race Of Champions is such a fun event and one I love taking part in. It is great to be pitched against the world’s best drivers and to know we are all on a level playing field.
“The cars are totally different to those we usually drive, so there is always a challenge to get used to them. Fredrik Johnsson and his team put on a great show so I can't wait to get to Mexico, catch up with everyone and start racing.”
ROC Nations Cup Draw (Saturday 19 January)
Team GERMANY (Sebastian Vettel & Mick Schumacher)
Team MEXICO (Esteban Gutierrez & Patricio O’Ward)
Team INFINITUM MEXICO (Memo Rojas & Benito Guerra)
Team FRANCE (Pierre Gasly & Loic Duval)
Team BRAZIL (Helio Castroneves & Lucas di Grassi)
Team TELCEL MEXICO (Daniel Suarez & ROC Mexico Saturday winner*)
Team SIM RACING ALL STARS (Enzo Bonito & eROC winner)
Team NORDIC (Tom Kristensen & Johan Kristoffersson)
Team GREAT BRITAIN (David Coulthard & Andy Priaulx)
Team USA (Ryan Hunter-Reay & Josef Newgarden)
Race Of Champions Draw (Sunday 20 January)
David COULTHARD (Great Britain) 13-time Formula 1 grand prix winner
Tom KRISTENSEN (Denmark) nine-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner
Patricio O’WARD (Mexico) 2018 Indy Lights Champion
Winner of Round 1A between the ROC Mexico Sunday winner* and Andy PRIAULX
Johan KRISTOFFERSSON (Sweden) double FIA World Rallycross Champion
Lucas DI GRASSI (Brazil) 2016-2017 Formula E Champion
Josef NEWGARDEN (USA) 2017 IndyCar Champion
Winner of Round 1B between Loic DUVAL and Helio CASTRONEVES
Sebastian VETTEL (Germany) four-time Formula 1 World Champion
Daniel SUAREZ (Mexico) 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion
Benito GUERRA (Mexico) 2012 Production World Rally Champion
Winner of Round 1C between Memo ROJAS and Mick SCHUMACHER
Pierre GASLY (France) Formula 1 driver for Red Bull Racing in 2019
Esteban GUTIERREZ (Mexico) Formula 1 driver for Sauber and Haas
Ryan HUNTER-REAY (USA) 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner and 2012 IndyCar champion
Winner of Round 1D between Enzo BONITO and the 2019 eROC Champion
*Before each day’s action Mexican drivers Ruben García Jr, Pancho Name, Abraham Calderon, Martin Fuentes, Ricardo Trivino, Ruben Rovelo, Ricardo Sanchez and Ricardo Cordero will fight it out for a place in the ROC field.
Gasly to make Race of Champions debut
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