Hunter-Reay arrived in Bangkok in time for RoC practice. (Melissa Eickhoff photo)
An all-star cast of racers has arrived in Bangkok for this weekend's Race of Champions, including IndyCar's Ryan Hunter-Reay, who had to make a major effort to get to Thailand in time after taking part in IndyCar testing at Sebring earlier this week.
The Race of Champions, which is being staged for the 25th consecutive year at Bangkok's Rajamangala Stadium, brings together some of the world's greatest drivers from motorsports' various disciplines, including Formula 1, IndyCar world rally, touring cars, Le Mans, MotoGP, and the X-Games – and sets them free to battle head to head in identical machinery.
"It's great to be here in Bangkok. It's my first time here in Thailand and it's my first Race Of Champions, so it's a tremendous honor to share the stage with these guys and this amount of talent," said Hunter-Reay at a media gathering. "So I just want to take it all in and hopefully surprise a few people. But I haven't driven four-wheel drive cars before so this is all pretty different from IndyCar.
"I have an open-minded approach, so I'll see what comes and go with it. Mostly this is a learning experience and I will definitely be following Andy's advice! I'm looking forward to that actually – I'll have a lot of fun…”
He was referring to British touring car ace Andy Priaulx, who said of the RoC: “It's great fun, it's nice to drive the cars and we all enjoy it. But don't believe any of these drivers. They're not here for fun, they're here to win – and you don't want to race any of these guys as they're all good.
"One thing I've learned is that you can do well, get to the final, then get beaten by the Germans! It's also very easy to find yourself going home early. So if I could offer any advice to the newcomers I'd recommend plenty of partying the night before, lots of alcohol and all the wrong food. Don't take any interest in the event – best to just rock up and drive…”
ROC 2012 begins with Friday's ROC Thailand and ROC Asia, followed by the ROC Nations Cup on Saturday and the Race Of Champions itself on Sunday.