Day three of Badger’s advent calendar brings you the most festive of motorsports: Ice Racing! Three F1 race-winners (and three also-rans) will be getting sideways for a bit of low-grip, high-speed action this winter – read on to find out who.
You might think that a pair of former world champions (one of the amongst the sport’s absolute legends) and a winner of the Monaco Grand Prix would spend their winter relaxing by the fire. A glass of brandy in hand, perhaps; appropriately beautiful wife in tow, maybe. But no, for Alain Prost, Jacques Villeneuve and Olivier Panis the winter is for racing.
All three are contesting the Andros Trophy, the largely-French-based ice racing championship which is now in to its 20th year. Yes, ice racing – the sort of thing you’d expect from Finns, not Frenchmen. Villeneuve? Well, you wouldn’t put anything past him anymore.
Also set to compete are Renault refugee Romain Grosjean, Franck Lagorce (a veteran of two GPs during the 1994 campaign) and Paul Belmondo, a man with the slightly iffy record of 20 failures to qualify from 27 F1 Grand Prix entered. Racing venues include a couple of Alpine resorts, a trip to the mountains of Andorra and a championship finale at the Stade de France next March.
Monsieur Prost – being a four-time F1 champ – has adapted his considerable talents well to ice racing, so well in fact that he won the Andros Trophy championship in 2007 and 2008. He’s the master of the ice – just call him Alain Frost (sorry).
Panis also has experience of the championship, and as the man who tamed the slipperiest of conditions to win the Monaco Grand Prix of 1996 you know he’s got a good feel for a difficult track surface.
JV? Well, he will be making his Andros Trophy debut. Did he ever win a wet race? No, he didn’t actually, which doesn’t bode too well. Not that they’re exactly the same thing, but you’d think that the deft touch and feeling required in the rain is equally important – hey, more important – on ice. We wonder how he’ll get on.
So, Badger readers, whilst you sit by the warm glow of your computer trying to find a 50p gift on Amazon for a relative you don’t even like, spare a thought for those wealthy, ex-F1 racers who get paid to race cars on ice in expensive ski resorts – all expenses paid, of course – during the festive period. It’s a tough old life up there.