RoC to hold qualifying event

The Race of Champions will hold a qualifying event in Portugal in June in which four countries will compete for the final place in the main event in Beijing in November

RoC to hold qualifying event

Spain, Portugal, Italy and Monaco will fight for the eighth spot in the RoC's Nations' Cup in the first of what the event organisers hope will be regular regional finals to earn places in the main event in future years.

The competition will begin on June 6 when Spain and Portugal hold shoot-outs to decide their team line-ups. Two-time World Rally Champion Carlos Sainz will lead the Spanish team, and Citroen WRC driver Dani Sordo, reigning British Formula 3 champion Jaime Alguersuari and Spanish rally star Sergio Vallejo will contest a knock-out competition to decide who joins Sainz in the qualifier.

For Portugal, A1GP racer Filipe Albuquerque, rally driver Bruno Magalhaes and off-road champion Carlos Sousa will race for the right to join Production World Rally Championship front runner Armindo Araujo in their nation's team.

The Race of Champions South Europe competition, to be held on June 7, will then decide which of the four nations will earn a place in the Race of Champions itself. Italy will be represented by two-time WRC champion Miki Biasion and WRC driver Gigi Galli, while the Monaco team will feature A1GP racer Clivio Piccione and former grand prix driver and five-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Emanuele Pirro, the Italian having been a Monaco resident for more than 20 years.

The qualifying event in Portugal will also feature a RoC Legends individual contest on the evening of June 6, in which Sainz, Biasion and Pirro will race against former F1 winners 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.

"We have had so much demand from countries and drivers to participate in the Race of Champions that we decided to launch the concept of a few regional finals," said event boss Fredrik Johnsson.

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