New Delhi, Nov 8 (IANS) The Race of Champions (ROC) invitation to India for the season-ending race in Thailand next month could be a precursor to its looking at the country as a key destination soon.
After hosting the Formula One Indian Grand Prix successfully twice, the country is on the radar of the motor sports world. The first hint of ROC wanting to explore the possibility of going over to India came when Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok Tuesday confirmed that they have been invited for the season-ending clash of champions in Thailand Dec 14-16.
ROC organiser Fredrik Johnsson was quick to respond to an IANS query Thursday whether India was in its scheme of things, saying the next logical step will be for India to host the high-profile race.
"This year's ROC in Bangkok is only the second time that the event has left Europe, following our visit to Beijing's Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium in 2009. The fact that we are returning to Asia so soon shows how fast the motor sport world is growing in the region. We are planning to return to Asia in the coming years and would be delighted if India could host the race in the near future," said Johnsson referring to ROC's 25-year-old history.
On an Indian team participating in the competition, Johnsson said: "India's influence in global motor sports has increased considerably after hosting the Formula 1, fielding an Indian team (Force India) and Indian drivers competing at the highest level. With the ROC going to Bangkok, it was the perfect opportunity to invite India."
Johnsson said they did not have to think much while picking India's only two F1 drivers till date.
"We always look very closely at all the eligible drivers from any country taking part in an ROC event. But clearly in this case, Narain and Karun are both well-known all over the globe due to their Formula 1 appearances, so it was always our aim to persuade them to appear together at the ROC," he said.
Reigning F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel and seven-time winner Michael Schumacher head the ROC drivers' line-up which includes IndyCar champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, former Grand Prix motorcycle road racing champion Michael Doohan, Moto GP champion Jorge Lorenzo and former F1 driver David Coulthard.