Race Of Champions to hold 2018 contest in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
|By Charles Bradley||Tuesday, October 17th 2017, 21:06 GMT|
The 2018 Race Of Champions will become the first international motorsport event to take place in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia will become the 10th country to host the head-to-head racing extravaganza, which travels to the Middle East for the first time in its 30-year history.
The two-day event, which pitches star drivers from different motorsport disciplines against each other in different cars, will be held in early 2018 at King Fahd International Stadium in the nation's capital, Riyadh, in partnership with Sela Sports and the General Sports Authority of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
An official statement read: "Further details, driver announcements and exact dates for ROC's Saudi Arabian debut will be announced shortly, but the General Sports Authority has confirmed that Race Of Champions will be a family event, open to both genders, and feature drivers, exhibitions and activities all suitable for the Kingdom's specific cultural requirements."
Time of great change
The move comes at a time of change in the Arabian state, which is the fifth-largest in Asia and second only in size to Algeria in the Arab world.
Last month, Saudi Arabia's King Salman issued a royal decree that it was easing restrictions on women driving from next year.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 32-year-old son of the king, has also laid out a reform package for the kingdom's economy and society, called Saudi Vision 2030.
Fredrik Johnsson, Race Of Champions president, said: "Our organisation is honoured to be working with the President of the General Sports Authority, his Excellency Turki Al-Sheikh, to bring Race Of Champions to the region for the first time in the event's 30-year history.
"As motorsport's most forward-thinking property, ROC is an event perfectly suited to Saudi Arabia, which is emerging as a modern sports market on the global stage.
"With women able to drive in Saudi Arabia from 2018, we feel this is an auspicious moment to be bringing a motorsport event to Riyadh.
"With women able to drive in Saudi Arabia from 2018, we feel this is an auspicious moment to be bringing a motorsport event to Riyadh."
Miami return also on the cards
Riyadh's 75,000-capacity King Fahd Stadium will join a list of prestigious venues to have hosted ROC, including Beijing's Bird's Nest and London's Olympic stadiums, the Stade de France in Paris, and Wembley Stadium in London, plus Miami's Marlins Park - the event's first North American destination.
ROC organisers are also in the process of agreeing upon the site for their 2018 season finale, which is expected to return to Miami, Florida.
Former Indy 500 and Monaco Grand Prix winner Juan Pablo Montoya is ROC's reigning champion of champions, after the Colombian claimed his first title in Miami this year, while four-time Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel helped Team Germany win its seventh ROC Nations Cup.