Celebrities from the worlds of entertainment and sport will kick-start the 2015 FIA World Rally Championship during a spectacular opening in Monte-Carlo next week.
Monaco’s famous Grand Prix circuit will echo to the sound of raucous World Rally Cars ahead of the start of Rallye Monte-Carlo, the most famous event in the 13-round calendar, on Thursday (22 January).
Celebrities and guests will enjoy high-speed rides around part of the Grand Prix circuit alongside top WRC drivers from teams including Volkswagen Motorsport, Hyundai Motorsport, Citroën Racing and M-Sport.
Celebrities scheduled to attend include:
Idris Elba – British actor best-known for roles in TV series The Wire and Luther, and for his portrayal of Nelson Mandela in the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Elba has been nominated for three Golden Globe Awards for best actor, winning one.
Renaud Lavillenie – French pole vaulter who won the gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. He is the world record holder and was named IAAF Men’s World Athlete of the Year in 2014.
Jacky Ickx – Belgian racing driver who won the Le Mans 24 Hours six times, eight Formula 1 races and the Dakar Rally in 1983.
François Cluzet – French film and theatre actor, best known for his role as Philippe in the international hit film The Intouchables in 2011.
Elin Fflur – Welsh singer and songwriter who came to prominence in 2002 after winning the Cân i Gymru (Song for Wales) competition. She has since released five successful albums.
FIA president Jean Todt, representatives from all 13 rounds and executives from the motorsport and automobile industries will also attend the season-opening, organised by championship rights holder WRC Promoter and Rallye Monte-Carlo organiser Automobile Club de Monaco.
It will be based in Place du Casino, flanked by the Hôtel de Paris where a reception will launch the afternoon events.
Outside, the square will be transformed as teams set up a temporary service area from where the high-speed rides will be based, before the early evening start ceremony outside the casino.
Drivers, team bosses, guests and executives from championship partners Michelin, Lexar and Certina will be interviewed throughout the afternoon during a special WRC Live studio talk show.
Sixteen of the WRC’s broadcast partners have confirmed their attendance, along with almost 100 photographers.
“Monte-Carlo, home to one of the jewels in the WRC crown, will provide a perfect location to celebrate the start of the 2015 FIA World Rally Championship,” said WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla.
“We want to offer a special occasion to open the season, an event that appeals not just to the world of WRC, but one that also showcases the excitement and drama of the championship to a broader public.
“Just a few hours later the world’s best rally drivers will contest the year’s opening stages on inhospitable Alpine roads in darkness. Such are the challenges that engage teams, competitors and fans and make our sport such an unpredictable and spectacular one,” added Ciesla.
The entire season-opening will be available to watch and listen to across all live platforms at www.wrc.com.