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Race of Champions cancelled

Race of Champions

Race of Champions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The 2013 Race of Champions has been cancelled, the organisers announced today. The ROC was scheduled to take place in Bangkok Thailand on December 14-15.

The following statement appeared on the Race of Champions website today:

“The Sports Authority of Thailand and the organisers of the 2013 Race Of Champions have announced that the event cannot take place as planned on December 14-15 due to the current political situation in Bangkok.

“Our thoughts are with the Thai people during this difficult period and we wish that a peaceful solution will soon be found. The Race Of Champions has been held all over the world for 25 consecutive years and we are currently looking at options of repeating the success of last year’s event in Bangkok on another date.

“Fans who have already purchased tickets for this year’s Race Of Champions should contact Thai Ticket Major or their ticketing agent for further information on refunds.”

The Race of Champions has become a major event on the motorsport calendar, pitting some of the best drivers in the world from various motorsport disciplines against each other in equal machinery. Among those scheduled to appear at the now-cancelled 2013 event were 7-time Formula 1 World Champion Michael Schumacher, former Grand Prix winner David Coulthard, 4-time Australian V8 supercar champion Jamie Whincup, recently crowned World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier and motorcycle racing legend Mick Doohan.

It’s not yet clear if it will be possible for the 2013 Race of Champions to be moved to a later date. Issues of politics and location aside, many of the drivers involved are already preparing for the start of their respective 2014 seasons, which limits their availability.

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Susie Wolff to compete in 2013 Race of Champions

Susie Wolff will compete in the 2013 Race of Champions (Andrew Ferraro/LAT Photographic)

Susie Wolff will compete in the 2013 Race of Champions (Andrew Ferraro/LAT Photographic)

Williams development driver Susie Wolff has been confirmed as a competitor in this year’s Race of Champions. She will form an all-Scottish pairing in Team GB with former Formula One driver David Coulthard.

The Race of Champions is an annual event that sees competitors from various motorsport disciplines pitted against each other in a series of races in equal machinery.  Pairings from various countries compete for the Nations Cup and there is also an individual competition, the winner of which is crowned “Champion of Champions”. Last year’s individual winner was Lotus F1 driver Romain Grosjean.

Team Germany, consisting of four-time Formula One World Champion Sebastian Vettel and retired F1 legend Michael Schumacher, has won the Nations Cup six years in a row. Schumacher has confirmed that he will be back this year, and Vettel is also expected to compete.

In the team event, Susie Wolff and David Coulthard will represent Team GB (Great Britain), and will be aiming to dethrone the all-conquering Germans.

Wolff and Coulthard have competed on the same track quite a few times, when both raced in the DTM series from 2010 to 2012. They will be competing with each other again in the individual event of this year’s Race of Champions. Last year Coulthard reached the semi-final stage, proving that he still has plenty of skill behind the wheel despite having retired from racing.

This will be Susie Wolff’s first Race of Champions, and in fact the first appearance in the competition by a woman. Wolff has plenty of racing experience, although she hasn’t competed full-time in any racing series this year while she’s been concentrating on her job as development driver for the Williams Formula One team. Before joining Williams, Wolff competed full-time in DTM for seven years.

Susie Wolff expressed her enthusiasm for the upcoming event:

“Any driver would love to be invited to do the Race Of Champions,” said Wolff. “It’s an event I have watched as far back as I can remember. What is so exciting is that the cars race head-to-head and you can see how close it is: it always comes down to hundredths. Jumping in and out of the different cars is going to be the real challenge. You need to make sure your car control is as good as it can be because you don’t have time to get a proper feeling for the car, you just get in and go.

“Then there’s the ROC Nations Cup, where I certainly feel responsibility to make sure we do well as a nation. I know David from our time in DTM and I rate him really highly so to be part of the team alongside him makes me very proud. Of course we’ll be up against drivers who are absolutely at the top of their game. So I know it’s not going to be easy but I’m relishing the challenge.”

The Race of Champions will take place in Bangkok on 14 and 15 December 2013.

Susie Wolff to debut Williams FW35

Williams confirmed today that development driver Susie Wolff will put the first miles on their new Formula One car – the FW35 – in advance of the second pre-season test that begins in Barcelona, Spain on 19 February. The team previously announced that the new car would not be run at the first test, but instead would be launched on the first day of the second test.

This will be the first time that Wolff drives the team’s current car in her role as Williams development driver. She has previously driven the 2011 FW33 during a Williams partner event at Silverstone in 2012, which was her first taste of F1 machinery. Most of her work for Williams has been in the simulator. This year sees Wolff granted more time in the car – in addition to being first to drive the FW35, she will take the wheel for most of the team’s aerodynamic testing this season – which shows that the team has confidence in her testing abilities.

Susie is the wife of Toto Wolff, who is a Williams shareholder and was an executive director of Williams until recently when he took up a directorship at Mercedes. That Susie has retained and expanded her testing role in the wake of Toto’s departure from Williams is a further indication that she provides good value to the technical team.

Mike Coughlan, Williams Technical Director, commented: “Susie has proved herself to be a valuable addition to our driver roster and her feedback during simulator sessions is second to none. As a result we will be stepping up her role this year and I’m looking forward to the progress we can make with Susie’s input in conjunction with that of Pastor [Maldonado] and Valtteri [Bottas].”

Susie Wolff seems enthusiastic about her increased testing role. She said, “I really enjoy my time working with Williams and feel very much at home here. Last year was a valuable experience and I certainly feel that I’ve developed a lot as a driver. Increasing my role this year will further this progression and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the FW35 for the first time next month. I’m showing that women can play a role at the top level of motorsport and would like to thank Sir Frank Williams and the whole of the technical team for the trust they continue to show in me.”

Wolff is now the only woman to have a significant role as a driver in Formula One. If she were to find her way into a race seat, she would become the first woman to line up for the start of a World Championship Grand Prix since Lella Lombardi drove for Brabham in 1976.

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