Joel Eriksson will contest the Race Of Champions, motorsport’s annual best-of-the-best extravaganza, for the first time when the 2018 event takes place in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) on February 2-3.
Eriksson has been invited among a select group of international motorsport stars on the back of a successful 2017 season, in which he finished as runner-up in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship and qualified on pole position for the prestigious FIA F3 World Cup in Macau.
The 19-year-old Swede – who has sealed a BMW works drive in the DTM for 2018 – will make his debut appearance at the ROC, which sees a stunning pack of F1 stars, IndyCar champions, Le Mans legends and rallycross greats go head to head in a range of bespoke cars on a specially-designed parallel tarmac track.
Eriksson will partake in both the individual part of the event, and in the Nations Cup contest where drivers pair up in teams according to nationality as they bid to crown the “World’s Fastest Nation”. Eriksson will represent Team Sweden alongside reigning rallycross world champion Johan Kristoffersson.
”I’m really excited about doing the Race Of Champions for the first time,” says Joel Eriksson. ”It’s not every day you go to Saudi Arabia to measure yourself against some of the greatest legends of the sport, so it’s definitely going to be a special moment! I’m looking forward to flying the Swedish flag with Johan as well; I know he’s really quick and versatile. I’ve heard great things about the ROC and I’m sure it will be a competitive yet friendly atmosphere that we’ll all enjoy.”
Already confirmed for the Riyadh event are the likes of defending ROC winner Juan Pablo Montoya, reigning IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden, nine-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Tom Kristensen, triple Indy 500 victor Helio Castroneves, rally and rallycross world champion Petter Solberg and Joel Eriksson’s main rival for the 2017 F3 title, Lando Norris.
FIA World Endurance Championship title winner Timo Bernhard and DTM ruler René Rast will also be gracing the field next week.
Staged at Riyadh’s King Fahd International Stadium in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the 2018 edition sees the Race Of Champions break new ground with its first-ever meeting in the Middle East.
The ROC concept was launched back in 1988, with the inaugural event – held in Paris – being won by rallying great Juha Kankkunen. After establishing a base in Canary Islands between 1992-2003, the ROC has since visited some of the world’s most evocative venues, including the Stade de France in Paris, London’s Wembley Stadium and Beijing’s “Bird’s Nest” Olympic Stadium.
Other locations to have staged the Race Of Champions include Bangkok, Miami and Düsseldorf.
“I’m very happy to have Sweden represented with a full team in the ROC Nations Cup,” says ROC President Fredrik Johnsson (himself from Sweden). “At the Race Of Champions, we have always loved to take drivers from all sorts of different disciplines and throw them together in identical machinery to see who comes out on top. Based on their successful 2017 seasons, I’m sure Joel and Johan have a very good chance of winning in Riyadh!”
Unsurprisingly, the ROC has been won by some of the absolute top names of international motorsport, with Sebastian Vettel, Sébastien Loeb, Marcus Grönholm, Colin McRae, Carlos Sainz and David Coulthard among those to have lifted the esteemed trophy.
Two Swedish drivers have won the event; Stig Blomqvist in 1989 and 1990, and Mattias Ekström in 2006, 2007 and 2009.
The 2018 Race Of Champions is played out across two days, with the Nations Cup taking place next Friday, February 2, and the individual event hitting the spotlight a day later.