Sunday, 22 November 2015

Vettel wraps up ROC crown

Sebastian Vettel made up for a disappointing ROC Nations Cup defeat by claiming victory in the main Race of Champions event.

The German beat Le Mans legend Kristensen 2-0 in the final to take his first overall ROC win, having previously won six Nations Cup titles alongside Michael Schumacher for team Germany between 2007-12.

Vettel’s route to the final wasn’t an easy one. He had to take down last year’s Nations Cup winner Petter Solberg in the Round of 16 and Le Mans winner Nico Hulkenberg in the quarter finals.

At the semi-final stage, he met last year’s ROC winner David Coulthard who had beaten Susie Wolff, participating in her last event before retirement, and Felipe Massa on his way through the competition.

Kristensen meanwhile beat Nelson Piquet Jr., Jason Plato and Alex Buncombe – who defeated early event favourite Andy Priaulx in the quarter finals.

Daniel Ricciardo, Jenson Button, Romain Grosjean, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and ROC Factor competition winner Bradley Philpot were the other big names to fall in the Round of 16 while Jose Maria Lopez, Pascal Wehrlein, Mick Doohan and Jolyon Palmer all failed to advance from the preliminary round which was not contested by every driver.

In the best-of-three final, Vettel and Kristensen first took to the track in matching Radical SR3 SRXs, with Vettel taking an early advantage.

They got behind the wheel of the Race of Champions’ unique ROC buggy for the second race in the final, although Kristensen’s car leaked oil over the track on the way to the start line, forcing a change of car.

The second round instead saw both drivers using the KTM X-Bow and the race, and ‘Champion of Champions’ title, was decided almost straight away with Kristensen hitting a barrier, costing him vital time and handing the victory to Vettel.

"Of course I’m very happy and honoured to win – but that took a while!" Said Vettel, "I’ve tried to win this man times and failed many times but finally I’ve succeeded."

"We all know this format is very difficult because no one gets much time in the cars so you need to find your rhythm quickly," the Ferrari driver added." Today I had the feeling, I found it straightaway."

Kristensen who was competing in his fifteenth Race of Champions, a record, said: "Seb is a deserved winner – he drove brilliantly and he showed that skill in the final."

"I gave my all and it was close but he’s been really on it here," said the nine-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner.

Race of Champions photo album

Images: Dominik Wilde

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