Britain’s two most successful racers from 2008 – Lewis Hamilton and Chris Hoy – will go head-to-head at Wembley Stadium next month, as the youngest ever Formula One World Champion takes on Britain’s triple Olympic gold medal winner as part of the entertainment package that will run alongside The Race of Champions on Sunday, December 14.
On a parallel track, Hamilton will take to the seat of a Mercedes-Benz road car, while Hoy takes to the saddle of a bike. Starting side-by-side on a tight and twisty course which is alien to both machines, the two stars will race around the circuit in the ultimate test of man and machine.
Hamilton and Hoy’s head-to-head chase will be the highlight of the pre-show entertainment, running before The ROC Nations Cup begins. Hamilton will also perform a demonstration run in his championship-winning Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.
Staged on the same day that the nation will decide its 2008 BBC Sports Personality of the Year, the challenge between two of the favourites for the award will present the first opportunity for British motorsport fans to gather and pay tribute to the achievements of Hamilton following his last-gasp championship heroics in the Brazilian GP. Both Hamilton and Hoy will depart Wembley late afternoon to travel to Liverpool for the Awards ceremony.
The ultimate end-of-season racing celebration, The Race of Champions pits the best competitors from the world of two and four-wheeled motorsport together to show off their abilities on an asphalt track constructed on top of Wembley’s famous pitch.
F1 stars, superbike champions, NASCAR racers and rally aces will battle one another but, following Britain’s success in the Beijing Olympics and Lewis Hamilton’s F1 World Championship victory, Fredrik Johnsson, President of event organisers IMP, wanted to combine the two for 2008.
“Ever since we created The Race of Champions 20 years ago, we’ve been putting the greatest racers in the world against each other,” Johnsson commented. “With Britain’s fantastic performance in Beijing, especially in cycling, we thought about how we could include that in the event and when Lewis won the F1 World Championship it was just perfect.”
“This is going to be something very special,” said Hamilton. “I’ve done F1 demonstration runs away from race tracks before, but Wembley Stadium’s completely different, the atmosphere is going to be crazy. It’s going to be a great way to end a fantastic year, and I’m really looking forward to putting on a show to thank the fans from all over the world and my fantastic British fans for all their support. I get so much from the fans and this is a great opportunity for me to give something back. I will be leaving Wembley prior to the actual Race of Champions final in order to make it to the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, but putting on the demonstration is a great opportunity for me to give something back.”
Hoy added: “I’m a big motor racing fan anyway and I’ve seen The Race of Champions on TV so to be there in the flesh is going to be great and to be actually able to compete and take part in it is fantastic.
“I can kick out about two and a half brake horsepower so that’s not going to quite match his car but I think they’ll make the race as close as possible and I’ll be giving it absolutely everything; I’m really looking forward to it.”
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