After previous years in the Stade de France, Wembley Stadium and Beijing's Birds' Nest, the 2010 visit to Dusseldorf's ESPRIT Arena might seem a little uninspiring, but the Race of Champions promises to deliver the same sort of spectacle as it has for years when the 2010 edition takes place this weekend.
The gourmet recipe for the event remains the same.
Get some of the best racing drivers from around the world and up and down sports' spectrum. Put them in an assortment of different cars and have them race – in parallel – around a track that wriggles around a stadium like a worm under a magnifying glass.
Perhaps taking the event to Dusseldorf is fitting reward for the performance of German drivers at the event through the years. A team from this year's hosts have won the event's Nations Cup three times and they will defend their title with a team made up of newly crowned World Champion Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher – both ROC veterans.
They are just part of the usual star-studded line-up, which this year includes F1 legend Alain Prost, NASCAR's Carl Edwards, Le Mans 24 Hours veteran Tom Kristensen, Touring Car champions Andy Priaulx and Jason Plato and multiple WRC champ Sebastien Loeb – the Frenchman a three time winner of the Race of Champions. However, the reigning ROC champion – DTM driver Mattias Ekstrom is absent from this year's class.
Unlike previous years Loeb will be the WRC's sole representative at the event, and in line with the decline there is no rally car among the line-up of cars to be used during the event.
The familiar 2-seater ROC buggies, of course, remain, alongside its single-seat brother and the smaller RX 150 buggy. But this year the list of machinery includes bigger cars to match the increase in width in the track, which at 7.5 metres wide is a metre wider than at Wembley and the widest ever for a ROC stadium track.
The VW Scirocco, Solution F Prototype (a car with a body shape surely based on an old style Vauxhall Astra) and the KTM X-Bow all return after previous outings, but will be joined on the roster by the Porsche 911, Audi R8 LMS and FJ Racecar – the latter outwardly similar to the machine used in the now defunct Speedcar Series.
These cars, and a new track design seem to promise higher speeds. The 2010 layout is less reliant on the switchbacks that have come to characterise ROC tracks, though the bridge remains – plenty of opportunity for the brave (or foolish) drivers to put some air between themselves and the track – and races are still run over two 'laps' of the stadium track.
The action from Dusseldorf begins at 6pm UK time on Saturday 27 November with the Nations Cup.
Eight teams, made up of pairs of drivers representing their home nations (or regions), split into two groups. After the round-robin style first round the competition enters the knockout stages to decide the 2011 champions. Two of the teams have already had to fight through to be part of this weekend's action. Team Portugal – Alvaro Parente and Filipe Alburquerque – had to win the ROC South Europe event to earn their places in Dusseldorf, while the members of team Benelux had to come out on top of a public vote.
Sunday (noon UK time) sees the start of the Race of Champions itself, where the same sixteen drivers battle through the same program of group and knockout stages to crown the 2010 Race of Champions champion. British fans will see Jason Plato in a near 'group of death' pitted against F1 legends Schumacher and Prost.
Nations Cup Draw (27 November)
Team France: Alain Prost – Sebastien Loeb
Team Nordic: Heikki Kovalainen – Tom Kristensen
Team Portugal: Alvaro Parente – Filipe Alburquerque
Team Great Britain: Andy Priaulx – Jason Plato
Team Germany: Michael Schumacher – Sebastian Vettel
Team USA: Travis Pastrana – Carl Edwards
Team All Stars: Mick Doohan – Tanner Foust
Team Benelux: Jeroen Bleekemolen – Bertrand Baguette
Race Of Champions Draw (28 November)