Three more drivers have confirmed they will compete in the 2011 Race of Champions in Dusseldorf, Germany, with American Travis Pastrana returning to the event, while French duo Sebastian Ogier and Romain Grosjean will make their ROC debuts.
The end of season event will be one of Pastrana's first competitive appearances since he smashed his right foot and ankle in July's X-Games. The American had the pins removed from his foot this month and although he won't be walking for a few more weeks, he's adamant he will be ready for ROC 2011.
Eleven time X-Games gold medallist and four time Rally America winner Pastrana has an impressive record at the Race Of Champions, getting to the semi-finals in 2005 despite a broken leg, before single-handedly taking Team USA to the ROC Nations Cup final in 2006 after both his team-mates pulled out with injury.
Pastrana said: “I’m honoured to be invited to compete against the best of the best and represent the USA again this year. There isn’t an event anywhere else like the Race Of Champions. The competitive nature of the drivers combined with our limited experience in the cars makes for a lot of fun and chaos. I’ve been injured most of this year and can’t wait to get back in a car to prepare for this event!”
World Rally Championship contender Ogier and GP2 series champion Grosjean will both be making their ROC debut's this year and will form a new partnership for Team France, who last year had Alain Prost and Sebastian Loeb competing for them.
Grosjean heads into the ROC event having dominated the GP2 series, taking five wins and five other podiums as he looks set for an Formula 1 return in 2012, while Ogier remains in the WRC title fight with two rallies remaining after taking five wins so far this year.
Ogier said: “It's a real honour to participate in the Race Of Champions. I've followed it since it was in Gran Canaria and I can't wait to find out all the cars we will be driving this year. It will be nice to team up with Romain too: he is a very good driver and he has had an almost perfect season in GP2. I'm very happy with my year too but now my goal is to try and gain a championship one day. It's still possible this year so I'll do my best at the two last rallies. If I have the chance to win, I'll try to get it. Needless to say a WRC/ROC double would be the perfect end to my yearâ€¦”
Grosjean commented: “2011 has been a very special season for me thanks to my GP2 series title – and there is no better way to cap it off than to make my Race Of Champions debut. I've seen the event a few times and it's great to have the chance to race against the best in the world from so many different spheres of motor sport. I'm especially looking forward to joining up with SÃ©bastien for Team France. French drivers have a good ROC record and hopefully our blend of racing and rally experience means that we can keep that up in December.”
ROC race organiser Fredrik Johnsson added: “Travis is an absolute legend of the Race Of Champions – and a true crowd pleaser – so we are thrilled that he is coming back in 2011. We already know his mighty strength of will at overcoming injuries from his incredible performances at previous ROC events. Now we are delighted that he will recover from his latest spill in time to race with us again in December.
“This is a very different line-up for Team France compared to last year when we had their two greatest multiple champions in Alain Prost and SÃ©bastien Loeb. They both have clashing commitments this year but this new pair shows the strength in depth of French motor sport right now. SÃ©bastien and Romain have set the world's rally stages and racetracks alight in 2011 and we're sure they'll do the same inside the ROC stadium in December.”
The trio join Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button. Andy Priaulx and Mattias Ekstrom at the end of season extravaganza, which this year will take place on 3/4 December at the ESPIRIT Arena in Dusseldorf, Germany.