Vettel and Schumacher win for team Germany UPDATE #2 It looked like Schumacher and Vettel might be hard-pressed to continue their Nations' Cup winning streak, as both suffered shock defeats in the initial heats - Vettel losing out to Tanner Foust and Travis Pastrana, both American extreme sports stars, and Schumacher being pipped by Belgian IndyCar driver Bertrand Baguette.
But winning their other three group-stage heats allowed Schumacher and Vettel to sneak through on a tie-break at the expense of Team USA's Pastrana and Carl Edwards, the German duo's best times being crucially slightly quicker.
They then defeated Baguette and his sportscar ace Team Benelux partner Jeroen Bleekemolen in the semi-finals, to set up a classic final showdown with Great Britain - this time represented by touring car heroes Jason Plato and Andy Priaulx - in the deciding head to head.
Although Schumacher took a straightforward win over Plato in the first of the three final races, Priaulx then defeated Vettel, meaning it all came down to a tense head to head between Priaulx and Schumacher - which the seven-time F1 champion (many say the best driver there ever was) won by 0.7s to clinch the honors for Germany.
11/27/10 Drivers quotes added below.
11/27/10 Local heroes Team Germany defeated Team GB in the final tonight to win the ROC Nations Cup in Düsseldorf after a thrilling contest featuring the world's top motorsport stars.
|Team Germany, featuring new Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel (Right) and seven-time champion Michael Schumacher (Center), beat Team GB's Jason Plato and Andy Priaulx (Left) in the final to win ROC Nations Cup for an incredible fourth time in succession.|
Legends from all aspects of motorsport did battle for national pride in the ROC Nations Cup, behind the wheel of various vehicles, including the awesome Audi R8 LMS, on a purpose-built parallel track at the ESPRIT arena.
The ROC Nations Cup trophy has been won for the last three years by Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher for Team Germany and they did not disappoint a big crowd tonight.
Schumacher squared up against Team GB's Plato in identical KTM X-Bows for the first race of the best-of-three final and made the perfect start, winning by just under two seconds. zzzz
The action switched to Audi R8 LMS cars for the second race, which Priaulx won to keep the contest alive and set up a head to head with Schumacher for the title.
An incredibly tight deciding race in ROC Cars saw Schumacher narrowly defeat Priaulx and clinch Team Germany's fourth ROC Nations Cup crown to the acclaim of their home fans.
Earlier in the evening, Team GB as group winners and runners-up Team France progressed through the round-robin Group A to line up a best-of-three semi-final.
Team Nordic, featuring Tom Kristensen and Heikki Kovalainen were eliminated on the tie-breaker of combined times while Alvaro Parente hit a wall in a KTM X-Bow as he and Team Portugal team-mate Filipe Albuquerque were knocked out.
In the first semi-final, Team GB prevailed in two races, with Plato beating Alain Prost in a VW Scirocco before Priaulx just finished of Loeb in a Porsche 911 to eliminate Team France.
In the other group, Team All Stars (Mick Doohan & Tanner Foust) and Team USA (Carl Edwards & Travis Pastrana) were knocked out as Team Germany and Team Benelux set a semi-final date.
In that contest, the home fans were given a performance to remember as Schumacher beat Bertrand Baguette in a ROC Car while Vettel followed that up with an immensely popular win over Jeroen Bleekemolen in a KTM X-Bow.
Tonight's official attendance was 36,189 and tickets are still available to see the main event tomorrow, when the stars of world motorsport go head to head for individual glory in The Race of Champions.
ROC Nations Cup ticket holders receive a 50% discount on Race of Champions tickets by presenting their ticket from Saturday.
Additional entertainment tomorrow is provided by Vettel, who will perform a demonstration run in his world championship-winning Red Bull Racing car.
After such an exciting ROC Nations Cup, the drivers gave their reaction to events. Here's what some of them had to say:
Michael Schumacher (Team Germany): “It is special because we had won this three times in a row which was great anyway. So to do it a fourth time here in Germany, considering we were almost knocked out in the group stages, is fantastic - we are more than happy. The crowd were very supportive tonight; they were cheering us all the way and with Sebastian having just won the world championship it was even more emotional and fun out there tonight. After the group stages we definitely needed to wake up - it felt like we were asleep. But when we were in the final, against the British guys, I thought we had a good chance.”
Sebastian Vettel (Team Germany): “The moment I went out on to the track everyone stood up and went crazy. It was a really cool night for all the fans, as well as for Michael and myself to get so much support. It was extremely close in the first round and we thought we might get knocked out. But I was lucky I had Michael on my team. It was a fun experience and to win at home, the first time in many years that The Race of Champions has been held in Germany, is very special.”
Andy Priaulx (Team GB): “To race against Michael Schumacher is always a privilege and we were beaten by two good guys tonight. I had some good races today, particularly the one against Sebastian Vettel. I beat the current Formula 1 world champion which is not bad for an old touring car driver! That is three years in a row I have lost out in the final after losing to Germany at Wembley and then Beijing. I really wanted to get it today but it is great to be here and we did well.”
Jason Plato (Team GB): “For lots of reasons we really wanted to win that one but in the end we weren't quick enough. I let the side down a bit as I wasn't on the top of my game when Andy certainly was. We gave it a good shot - close but no cigar.”
Bertrand Baguette (Team Benelux): “I had a lot of fun and for me racing against Michael Schumacher, Sébastien Loeb and Alain Prost is a dream. It went quite well but unfortunately we didn't make it to the final. I have to say I am happy for the people who voted for me to be here as part of Team Benelux. I am really proud to be here and very happy I could be here thanks to them.”
Heikki Kovalainen (Team Nordic): “That's the way it is sometimes. I managed to do well in my races and win all three but we had tough opponents. It is nothing to be ashamed of; just the way it is and next year we have to come back a bit stronger.”
Tom Kristensen (Team Nordic): “It is frustrating to be eliminated in the first round. Heikki did a fantastic job to win all his races and it would have been nice to progress but there's always next time. It makes me even more determined to do better tomorrow. You don't need to use the cars on Monday so everyone will push even harder!”
Carl Edwards (Team USA): “I had fun driving and I am excited for tomorrow when I need to redeem myself. I don't know what went wrong; I was just slower than I was yesterday. I was much faster yesterday, especially in the KTM, but there is no excuse, it was just me. I will run better tomorrow, I'm sure.”
Travis Pastrana (Team USA): “It felt really good to beat Sebastian Vettel in the first round and it was just really cool to race him because I have so much respect for him. It's unfortunate we couldn't go through but it was awesome having Carl Edwards over here and driving alongside me for Team USA. It was a bit tough for us out there but now I'm looking forward to tomorrow.”
Mick Doohan (Team All Stars): “That was an absolutely fantastic experience, really enjoyable. I was surprised to beat Carl Edwards because he spends all his year driving cars so I enjoyed that. This is a lot of fun for me and I just enjoy driving these cars against these drivers. I have a blast and if I can come close to these guys I am really happy.”
Alvaro Parente (Team Portugal): “I got the puncture during the run so I hit the wall because of that. Already on the straight the car didn't feel quite right so maybe I could have stopped there but I am a racing driver so I tried to push on. The puncture cost us the chance to go through but that was just down to bad luck and I'll try to get a better result tomorrow.”