The annual Race of Champions, which makes its first ever first to the Middle East at King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is set to feature four prominent names from the Verizon IndyCar Series.
Of the four, three raced under the Team Penske banner. Juan Pablo Montoya, who raced at this year’s INDYCAR Grand Prix and Indianapolis 500, returns to defend his victory from last year’s Race of Champions, a triumph that came in his first appearance. Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves and 2017 IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden will join Montoya to complete the trio of Penske drivers, with Newgarden making his debut. Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay also returns to the Race of Champions and completes the IndyCar quartet.
Montoya revealed that competing at such an event is a unique honor, and one he ultimately regrets missing prior to his first visit this past January.
“When I came to the Race Of Champions for the first time this year I immediately regretted never having done it before!” Montoya detailed. “It was an amazing experience and Fredrik Johnsson and his team put together an amazing event. It’s all about fun but when you go to the grid it’s unbelievable how focused you are. It’s like qualifying. Experience plays a part too: after a few laps you start getting the hang of the cars, but you can also mess it up really bad. I still don’t know what gave me the edge in Miami; it must have been beginner’s luck.”
Additions to the full driver lineup will be released in the coming weeks, but other confirmed names include nine-time 24 Hours of Le Mans champion Tom Kristensen, newly crowned FIA Formula 3 European Champion Lando Norris, two-time Monaco Grand Prix winner and current Formula 1 TV analyst David Coulthard, and two-time FIA World Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg.
Now in its 31st year, the 2018 edition of the Race of Champions will be held on February 2-3.