Juho Hänninen In IRC Action For Skoda


Two of the brightest stars in rallying have become the latest drivers to sign up for the end of season 2011 Race Of Champions event, with Intercontinental Rally Challenge stars Juho Hänninen and Jan Kopecký joining the list of drivers competing in Germany in December.

Skoda works drivers Hänninen and Kopecký have impressive records in recent years, Hänninen winning the IRC in 2010 before combining an IRC campaign with a championship winning season in the Super 2000 class of the World Rally Championship this year. Kopecký meanwhile continued his unlucky streak in the IRC, having finished runner up in the series for the last three years now.

Finnish racer Hänninen will line up alongside Le Mans racer Tom Kristensen for Team Nordic in the ROC Nations Cup, while Kopecký, from the Czech Republic, will line up alongside Rusian Formula 1 racer Vitaly Petrov for Team Slavic, ROC's first ever Eastern European partnership. Both drivers will then battle it out in the individual event the next day.

Hänninen said: “It's an honour to be competing at the Race Of Champions. Finland has an impressive ROC record dating all the way back to Juha Kankkunen who won the first event in 1988. I've taken three wins in each of the S-WRC and the IRC this year, but I'm the only Finn in the ROC line-up so far – so no pressure then! Hopefully Tom and I have a blend of racing and rally experience that will work well as we try to take the ROC Nations Cup back to our part of the world.”

Kopecký added: “It's been a strong 2011 for me and this chance to race against the world's best drivers is the perfect way to cap off the year. I actually used to race touring cars before I switched to rallies so hopefully that can help me with the quick car changes. I'm looking forward to joining up with Vitaly for Team Slavic and I hope we can perform well in the ROC Nations Cup on behalf of Eastern Europe.”

ROC race organiser Fredrik Johnsson said: “The Race Of Champions started as an event for rally drivers before we opened up to other racing series. So we are thrilled to be able to add two more rally experts to our line-up for Düsseldorf. Juho and Jan have both performed well in recent years and they'll both be tough opponents for anyone who has to race them in December.”

Drivers 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
  • Travis PASTRANA, four-time Rally America winner and X-Games legend
  • Brian DEEGAN, 13 X-games medals including Rally Cross gold in 2011
  • Tom KRISTENSEN, eight-time Le Mans 24-Hour race winner
  • Mattias EKSTROM, DTM star and triple ROC Champion of Champions
  • David COULTHARD, winner of 13 Formula 1 grands prix
  • Sébastien OGIER, winner of five WRC rallies in 2011
  • Romain GROSJEAN, 2011 GP2 Series Champion
  • Martin TOMCZYK, 2011 DTM Champion
  • Vitaly PETROV, Formula 1 driver for Lotus Renault GP
  • Timo GLOCK, Formula 1 driver for Marussia Virgin Racing
  • Timo SCHEIDER, 2008 and 2009 DTM Champion
  • Jan KOPECKÝ, three-time Intercontinental Rally Challenge runner-up
  • Juho HÄNNINEN, 2011 S-WRC champion and 2010 IRC champion
  • Filipe ALBUQUERQUE, 2010 Race Of Champions Winner