RoC: Andy Priaulx and Jenson Button are Team GB

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarTuesday, September 9th, 2008

 
 

We thought it was about time we checked in with the Race of Champions event to see how it’s shaping up with three months to go – a good thing we did, because Mark Webber, Troy Bayliss and Andy Priaulx have all confirmed their attendance.

Touring car legend and triple World Champion Priaulx will be joining Jenson Button as the other half of Team GB – renewing their partnership of last year when they competed as the English team.

That probably means it’s time to forget about Lewis Hamilton turning up, something that McLaren were never all that likely to approve.

But the rumours were fun while they lasted. And things as they stand are looking pretty damned good so (whisper this) perhaps we’d be unlikely to miss him too much.

Priaulx is yet another returnee seeking a grudge match with Germany’s Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher, who knocked the British pair out in the semi-finals last year.

He said: “Michael is a tough competitor and we have a lot of respect for each other but when the lights go out there will be no holding us back. It’s fun, yes, but of course I want to win.

“It was frustrating to get so close but not to make either final last year. Competing at Wembley was incredible. They say the support of a home crowd gives you an extra second a lap, you can really feel them egging you on, the noise is phenomenal.”

F1 pilot and all-round extreme sportsman Mark Webber will join Troy Bayliss, a double World Super Bike champion, to form the first ever Team Australia.

Notice how Jenson Button never offers to take Webber on in a triathlon – it’ll be instructive to see what happens when they go head-to-head here.

Bayliss last entered The Race of Champions in Gran Canaria in 2001 as part of an all-star team that reached the finals of The ROC Nations Cup.

Webber says he is relishing his first appearance: “I’ve been watching The Race of Champions for the last few years and have always been really keen to do it, as the concept looks great.

“This year I can, so flying the flag for Australia will be loads of fun – especially with a two wheel legend in Troy as my team-mate. I’m sure there will be some laughs on the night for both of us!”

Other nations finalising their line-up include Sebastien Loeb for France, plus Tom Kristensen and last year’s winner Mattias Ekstrom for Scandinavia – a team to consider putting your money on, if you fancy a bet.

Tickets for the event are available on 0844 412 1743 or at http://www.raceofchampions.com.

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