Newly-crowned World Touring Car Champion Yvan Muller will line up alongside compatriot and record-breaking five-time World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb in a super-strong French entry for the popular Race of Champions next month.
The end-of-season spectacular will take place for the second year in a row at Wembley Stadium, having in previous years been held predominantly in Gran Canaria and Paris' Stade de France, and Muller's partnership with Citroën star Loeb will surely make les bleus
one of the chief contenders' for Nations' Cup glory.
With one of the most successful tin-top drivers of all time and the
most successful rally driver of all time, Team France has made sure of being a veritable force to be reckoned with in the sporting pantheon of Wembley, and Muller will be competing in the Race of Champions for the fourth time, having previously taken part in 2000 in Grand Canaria, 2006 in Paris and last year in London.
France has twice triumphed in the Nations' Cup – in 2004, courtesy of Loeb and former Ferrari Formula 1 star Jean Alesi, and in 2000 with Muller, Kawasaki World Superbike Championship front-runner Régis Laconi and seven-time rally winner Gilles Panizzi on-board.
Moreover, Muller is a familiar face to UK crowds, having spent eight years at the sharp end of the field in the hotly-fought British Touring Car Championship, clinching the laurels in 2003 and finishing as runner-up in the title chase on four other occasions.
In 2006 the 39-year-old switched to the WTCC. After finishing fourth in his maiden season, he improved to second a year later and – in taking the chequered flag third for SEAT in the opening race at Macau earlier this month – finally got his hands on the crown at the third time of asking.
Now, with the pressure off, he is clearly aiming to add a second 2008 trophy to his overflowing cabinet – that of 'Champion of Champions', by defeating such motorsport luminaries as seven-time F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher, British grand prix aces Jenson Button and David Coulthard and BMW touring car stalwart Andy Priaulx, the man who agonisingly pipped him to the WTCC trophy in Macau twelve months ago.
“When you are invited to take part in the Race of Champions, you say yes,” the Alsacien admitted. “It is a great event, and to be able to race without having special targets – just to give some fun to the fans – is good.
“Racing in a stadium like Wembley is a very different experience to what I do for the rest of the year, and I am very happy that I can do a second event in the UK this year, after the Brands Hatch round of the WTCC.”