Race of Champions canceled due to political unrest in Bangkok

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There’s not much racing that goes on in December anyway, but the all-star “Race of Champions” match race event featuring drivers from around the world competing in five or six different types of machinery is usually a sure thing.

Except in 2013, as the event has been canceled. The ROC was set to take place in Bangkok, Thailand but will not occur due to political unrest in the country.

The ROC occurred in Bangkok last year without a hitch, marking the 25th consecutive year the event took place. But now event organizers will need to seek other options for resuscitating the event for 2014.

Lotus Formula One driver Romain Grosjean was the “Champion of Champions” in 2012 with fellow Frenchman Sebastien Ogier of WRC fame – the younger Sebastien compared to nine-time consecutive champion Sebastien Loeb – scoring the overall title in 2011.

Germany captured the ROC Nation’s Cup last year with the most successful duo of Formula One World Champions, seven-time champ Michael Schumacher and now-four-time champ Sebastian Vettel.

The 12 drivers announced thus far for 2013 included Schumacher, Ogier, Tom Kristensen (Le Mans/FIA World Endurance Championship), David Coulthard (ex-F1), Narain Karthikeyan (ex-F1), Karun Chandhok (ex-F1), Jamie Whincup (Australian V8 Supercars), Susie Wolff (Williams F1 reserve), Mattias Ekstrom (DTM), Fabio Leimer (GP2), Mick Doohan (MotoGP), and most recently, Red Bull’s base diving hero Felix Baumgartner.

They’d all compete head-to-head in matches that include the Audi R8 LMS, VW Scirocco Cup, Ariel Atom Cup, Toyota GT86, an ROC Buggy and the KTM X-Bow. A NASCAR stock car was removed from the machinery list for this year.

MRTI: pre-season testing Day 2 notebook

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Day 2 of testing for the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires saw two series hit the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course for pre-season testing. The Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda both got their turns on Saturday after the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires took to the 1.5-mile oval on Friday.

Both series got in two sessions apiece during the day. Below are quick reports for Pro Mazda and USF2000.

Pro Mazda: Thompson, Askew Lead Opening Sessions

A pair of USF2000 graduates led the two sessions for Pro Mazda. In Session 1, it was Parker Thompson and Exclusive Autosport leading the way, while Cape Motorsports’ Oliver Askew, last year’s USF2000 champion, led the way in Session 2. Times from both sessions are below.

Juncos Racing’s Rinus VeeKay, last year’s runnerup in the USF2000 championship, also put in a strong showing, ending up second in Session 2.

This was also the first official session for the brand new Tatuus PM-18, and it’s first official outing showed off quite a bit of speed. Lap times were reportedly upwards of four seconds a lap faster than the previous Elan Pro Mazda chassis.

USF2000: Pabst Racing, Cape Motosports Lead the Way

The teams that battled for last year’s USF2000 crown, Cape Motorsports and Pabst Racing, traded early blows during Saturday testing, with each team leading a session.

Pabst Racing’s Rasmus Lindh led the way in Session 1, with four Pabst cars in the top five, while Kyle Kirkwood led Session 2 for Cape. Times from both sessions are below.

However, it should be noted that DEForce Racing’s Kory Enders spent most of Session 2 at the top of the speed charts before getting pushed down to third late in the running. With the top three finishers from last year’s USF2000 championship all moving on to Pro Mazda (Askew, VeeKay, and Thompson), this USF2000 season could be anyone’s for the taking.

Of note, Keith Donegan, who signed with ArmsUp Motorsports after winning the $200K scholarship from Mazda Motorsports in November’s Mazda Road to Indy Shootout, was 16th in Session 1, but did not turn laps in Session 2.

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