Barbados to host return of Race of Champions

Race of Champions (ROC) organisers have switched from the motorsport event’s stadium-focused hosting concept by awarding the 2014 edition to the Bushy Park Circuit in Barbados.

In recent years the ROC has visited the Stade de France in Paris, London’s Wembley Stadium, the ‘Bird’s Nest’ Olympic Stadium in Beijing, Düsseldorf’s Esprit Arena and Bangkok’s Rajamangala Stadium. However, Bushy Park Circuit, newly renovated this year to become a multi-purpose motorsport facility, has held off competition from a variety of rivals across the world to clinch this year’s event, which will be held on December 13-14.

In July, the ROC shortlisted Bushy Park, along with venues in Brazil, England, France, Germany, Qatar, Sweden and the US as they aimed to return the event to the motorsport calendar in 2014. Amongst the prospective European hosts were the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, England; the Stade de France; the Friends Arena in Stockholm, Sweden and German venues the Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt and Mercedes-Benz Arena in Stuttgart. The Qatari capital of Doha was also listed as a potential host city, along with the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas and 2014 Fifa World Cup final venue the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Fans were asked to contribute to the decision on this year’s ROC host via a vote on the Race Of Champions website, Facebook and Twitter. Organisers said the Bushy Park Circuit was one of the most popular choices – and after final discussions with all the leading contenders, the Barbados venue was selected to stage ROC 2014.

ROC organiser Fredrik Johnsson said: “We received over 14,000 votes for a mix of different stadiums and circuits all over the world – which will join our list of venues under consideration for future ROC events. Hosting ROC at a circuit marks a break from our last 10 years of stadium events but this is a throwback to our long-time home at Gran Canaria, which hosted the Race Of Champions from 1992 to 2003. We will certainly return to stadium events in the future but for 2014 we will take advantage of the available space to build a truly spectacular ROC parallel track at Bushy Park.”

Bushy Park Circuit executive chairman Mark Maloney added: “This achievement speaks volumes to the credibility of our facility and to our ability to host world class events and also to Barbados as a destination. Motorsport is the number one spectator sport in Barbados, ahead of even cricket and football. Now we look forward to being able to show the world what we have to offer as we continue to showcase what we consider to be the world’s premier boutique motorsports facility in a tropical paradise.”

The Race of Champions will return in December after political unrest in the Thai capital Bangkok led to the 2013 event being cancelled. The Sports Authority of Thailand, along with event organisers, had hoped to rearrange the event but abandoned efforts due to date clashes with the 2014 motorsport calendar and the political situation in Bangkok.

The annual end-of-season contest, which has been held for over 25 years, brings together the world’s greatest drivers from motorsport’s major disciplines – including Formula One, the World Rally Championship, Le Mans, MotoGP, Nascar, IndyCar, touring cars and the X-Games.