Gordon, Loeb and Alesi for RoC

NASCAR ace Jeff Gordon will join Sebastien Loeb and Jean Alesi at this year's Race of Champions, Autosport-Atlas reveals

Gordon, Loeb and Alesi for RoC

The trio are the first big names to be announced for the event, which will return to the Stade de France on December 3, 2005.

Gordon missed the event last year through illness but has confirmed he will lead Team USA at this year's event. The four-time Nextel Cup champion has led Team USA to victory before in the 2002 Race of Champions - Nations Cup in the Canary Islands.

Gordon said: "It was disappointing to miss the Race of Champions last year, but I'm looking forward to participating this year's event. It gives us the chance to compete for our country, but it also gives us the opportunity to talk to other drivers and learn about their experiences in different forms of racing."

Reigning WRC champion Loeb and DTM-ace Alesi won the event for Team France last year and will return to defend their title.

Loeb said: "I am really looking forward to be back in the incredible atmosphere in the Stade de France. My objective this year is also to re-claim the individual Race of Champions title that I lost to Heikki Kovalainen last year."

This year's meeting will be the 18th running of the head-to-head competition for the world's top racing and rally drivers. The end-of-season event, created by Fredrik Johnsson and rally star Michele Mouton, began in Paris in 1988 before moving to Germany and Spain.

On its return to France last winter, 62,333 fans watched household names Michael Schumacher, David Coulthard and Jimmie Johnson race each other in close confines.

Organisers have said they have reached verbal agreements with some of the other stars from the 2004 event, and will confirm their names shortly.

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