What do you get when you take two Formula One drivers at opposite ends of their careers, mix in a seasoned V8 Supercar champion and add one of the craziest motorsport stars on the planet, all in identical cars doing five laps of the Albert Park street circuit battling it out for victory?
The Red Bull Race Off, a new exhibition race format premiering at the 2011 Formula 1™ Qantas Australian Grand Prix and guaranteed to be one of the highlights of the weekend.
Scuderia Toro Rosso practice and third driver Daniel Ricciardo, former Red Bull Racing F1 driver and BBC commentator David Coulthard, V8 Supercars star Rick Kelly and motorcycle daredevil Robbie Maddison will go head-to-head in this show race, driving specially-modified Mégane Renault Sport 250s.
On paper, any of the four could and should win – but only one will go home happy and with bragging rights at stake, the action promises not to disappoint.
For the Red Bull Race Off, Renault Australia will be providing four Mégane Renault Sport 250s and making a number of modifications to ensure the best possible safety for the drivers. A six-point full roll cage will be installed into each vehicle along with a racing window net. Each driver will have a racing seat fitted along with a 5-point racing harness. In addition, the vehicles will have fire extinguishers fitted. All modifications made to the vehicles are in line with CAMS regulations for the safe operation of the Red Bull Race Off.
There’s no telling what this intriguing event will deliver and that’s exactly why it will be a must-see on the 2011 programme.
About the Red Bull Race Off Drivers
21-year-old West Australian Daniel Ricciardo will be on track for Scuderia Toro Rosso as its third and reserve driver. This is not just an ‘honorary’ appointment as Daniel will drive in the Friday morning free practice sessions at all the Grands Prix, replacing each of the current two drivers in turn. Ricciardo is a product of the Red Bull Young Driver Programme. In 2010 he came second in the Formula Renault 3.5 series, after winning the 2009 British Formula 3 championship.
Daniel’s biggest challenge in the Red Bull Race Off will be getting accustomed to driving with a roof given all of his career has been spent in open-wheelers from Formula Ford, Formula BMW, F3, Formula Renault and now F1.
David Coulthard is part of the management structure at the Red Bull Racing Formula One team. After a distinguished career in junior formulae, DC began his F1 career with Williams before moving to McLaren and then Red Bull Racing. He won 13 Grands Prix, all in cars designed by Adrian Newey, and appeared on the podium 62 times. The late 1990s and early 2000s in F1 were characterised by a series of battles between Coulthard and Michael Schumacher, resulting in the odd rude gesture, pitlane scuffle or accusation of attempted murder. They seem to have got past it. When not on the Red Bull Racing pitwall, DC has also thrown himself into the frightening world of TV journalism, working for the BBC.
V8 Supercars champ and Holden star, Rick Kelly is a two-time Bathurst winner and was the 2006 V8 Supercars series champion. Kelly has finished in the top eight in Australia’s most competitive motor racing series every year since 2003, but has yet to crack it for a win in Melbourne in the support races to the F1 event.
29-year-old Australian Robbie Maddison makes his living on two wheels – or, to be more precise, off two wheels. The daredevil from Kiama, NSW has performed some of the most extreme stunts ever tackled by a man and a motorcycle. In March last year, Maddison jumped over the starting gantry on the Albert Park grid on his motorbike. While he’ll have to be content with driving beneath those same lights this year, he has some form on four wheels here as well, having dominated the Celebrity Challenge at the 2008 Australian Grand Prix in a Fiat 500.