What Is the Famous Race of Champions?

Published 11/19/2021, 3:53 AM EST


Every year since 1988, many racers from different disciplines have competed in the Race of Champions. The event is an annual one, and it pits the best racers against each other in various competitions. Normally, the Race of Champions (ROC) is held at the end of the year or at the beginning of the year.

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The competition was first held in Montlhéry in France, with Finland’s Juha Kankkunen winning. In the following year, the event moved to Nurburgring and Sweden’s Stig Blomqvist won. For the 1990 season, Blomqvist won again, but this time the venue was at Barcelona. However, this edition of the event witnessed the introduction of Rally events, and Blomqvist’s compatriot Kenneth Eriksson won.

In 1991 at Madrid, Kankkunen reclaimed his crown while Josep Maria Bardolet won the rally event. For the 1992 edition, the Race of Champions moved to Gran Canaria, which would be its permanent home for a while. Italy’s Andrea Aghini won the title, while Spain’s Flavio Alonso clinched the rally title.

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Who has been the most successful Race of Champions winner?

French rally driver Didier Auriol was the most successful racer, with four wins, including consecutive wins in 1993 and 1994. Francois Delecour triumphed in 1995 and Carlos Sainz won in 1997. A year later, the late great Colin McRae won the 1998 edition of the Race of Champions, ahead of his brother, Alister. Then, between 2000 and 2002, the Finns fought back courtesy of Tommi Makinen, Harri Rovanpera, and Marcus Gronholm.

French rally legend Sebastien Loeb won in 2003, 2005 and 2008. Meanwhile, former F1 driver Heikki Kovalainen became the first non-Rally driver to win the Race of Champions in 2004. Sweden’s Mattias Ekström took two back-to-back wins in 2006 and 2007, and again in 2009. Filipe Albuquerque won in 2010, with Sébastien Ogier and Romain Grosjean winning in 2011 and 2012.

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LONG POND, PA – AUGUST 03: (L-R) Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet, stand in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway on August 3, 2007 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Unfortunately, the Thai political crisis saw the event’s cancellation in 2013. However, David Coulthard win the 2014 and 2018 editions. Sebastian Vettel won in 2015 and Juan Pablo Montoya won in 2017, with no race held in 2016 due to a schedule change.  Finally, Mexico’s Benito Guerra and Sweden’s Timmy Hansen won the 2019 and 2020 (online) editions.

It is also worth noting that from 1999 onwards, there was the Nations’ Cup. Finnish trio Tommi Makinen, JJ Lehto and Kari Tiainen won the inaugural race. In 2002, NASCAR teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon teamed up with MotoGP rider Colin Edwards to win for USA.

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However, the 2007 edition witnessed a dream team of Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel. Together, the F1 stars romped to six consecutive titles for Germany. Vettel returned in 2017, this time with Pascal Wehrlein, and took Germany’s seventh title. Now, the Race of Champions visits Sweden and will race on ice for the first time.

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Dhruv George

12516 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Motorsports author for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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