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Button out, Speed in for ROC 13 Dec 2006

Jenson Button (GBR) Honda Racing F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Montreal, Canada, 23 June 2006 Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, British Grand Prix, Practice Day, Silverstone, England, 9 June 2006 Jenson Button (GBR) Honda RA106.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Interlagos, Brazil, 21 October 2006 Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day Suzuka, Japan, 7 October 2006

Honda’s Jenson Button has withdrawn from this weekend’s Race of Champions (ROC) in Paris due to his recent rib injury. Meanwhile, American Toro Rosso driver Scott Speed has been drafted in to replace injured compatriot Jimmie Johnson.

Button was due to make his debut at the annual showdown, in which national teams of world-renowned drivers compete in a variety of machinery around a specially-built course in the Stade de France. However, after missing recent tests due to his injury, his place in the England team will now be taken by touring car star James Thompson.

"It is with enormous regret that I won't be competing in this year's Race of Champions," admitted Button. "Although the recent rib injury I sustained at a karting test is healing well, we decided that it was best that I didn't aggravate the condition. It was an event I was very much looking forward to and I wish everyone well, particularly my friend Andy Priaulx who was going to be my team mate."

Meanwhile, with Button’s withdrawal comes confirmation that Speed will replace another injured competitor, NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, who recently broke his wrist in a bizarre golf carting accident. Speed will join Red Bull colleague David Coulthard at the event, the pair competing in the Scottish and US squads respectively.

"It was a surprise to be invited to say the least," said Speed. "I definitely wasn’t expecting to replace Jimmie Johnson in The Race of the Champions this year. Of course I’m really excited and I can’t wait to race against all these guys."

The Race of Champions takes place in Paris on Saturday, December 16.