RoC South Europe to Take Place in Portugal

Apart from undergoing a venue change, this year's Race of Champions will also offer its fans an entirely new format. Ahead of the actual event, to be held at the Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing (host of last year's Olympic Games), four European nations will have to pass a qualifying event in Portugal for the 8th spot available for the 2009 edition. The RoC Regional Finals will get under way between June 6 and 7, at the Estádio do Dragão in Portugal.

The four nations battling for that RoC Nations Cup seat will be Spain, Portugal, Italy and Monaco. According to the press release from the RoC, the actual competition will take place on June 7, one day after Spain and Portugal would have already decide their team line-ups via a shootout.

Also on June 6, the Portuguese qualifying event will also feature a RoC Legends individual contest. Taking part in this contest will be former WRC champions Carlos Sainz and Miki Biasion, alongside five-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Emanuele Pirro. The aforementioned trio will compete against ex-F1 drivers Johnny Herbert and Heinz-Harald Frentzen, five-time MotoGP world champion Mick Doohan, triple World Touring Car champion Andy Priaulx and Portuguese rally champion and ex-F1 driver Pedro Chaves.

The very next day, on June 7, the actual competition for the final spot in this year's RoC Nations Cup will get under way. Representing Spain will be Sainz, alongside one of the following three drivers: Citroen WRC driver Dani Sordo, reigning British Formula 3 champion Jaime Alguersuari and Spanish rally star Sergio Vallejo (set in the knock-out stages in the previous day).

Portugal will be represented by Production World Rally Championship driver Armindo Araujo, alongside one of the following 3 drivers: A1GP's Filipe Albuquerque, rally driver Bruno Magalhaes and off-road champion Carlos Sousa (winner also set in the knock-out stages).

Finally, Italy will be represented by two-time WRC champion Miki Biasion and WRC driver Gigi Galli, while Monaco will be present through A1GP driver Clivio Piccione and five-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Emanuele Pirro (Monaco resident, although born in Italy).

Cars to be used include the KTM X-Bow, Solution F prototype, RX150 buggy, and the now iconic specially-built ROC car, which have appeared at The Race of Champions Grand Finals at Wembley in 2007 and 2008. The event will also include a packed exhibitions line-up including the world-renowned Red Bull X Fighters and Michele Mouton’s Group B Audi Quattro S1,” added the official press release.
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