Wed 04 November 2009
Seven time F1 World Champion, Michael Schumacher, and his Team Germany team-mate, Sebastian Vettel, claimed their third consecutive ROC Nations Cup title today.
The pair beat the Autosport Team GB pairing of new F1 World Champion, Jenson Button, and three time World Touring Car Champion, Andy Priaulx, in a tie break race in the final to become the first winners of three Nations Cup crowns.
The German drivers had defeated teams from host nation, China, and Finland to reach the semi-finals. There, they met a fired up American team comprising Tanner Foust and Travis Pastrana but, despite an heroic effort by Foust to beat Schumacher, Vettel's two wins took Team Germany to the final once again.
Crowd favourite Schumacher beat Button in the first heat of the final, but Vettel, the youngest ever F1 race-winner, was beaten by Priaulx in the second heat. In the tie break decider, Schumacher was not to be beaten in the unique ROC Car.
“We had a nice fight – I just come back to this event to use whatever there is left of a talent,” said Schumacher. “With this track, it's just a case of watching where the other guy is to know how hard to push. Of course, the racing is the highlight but the other stuff that goes on around that is part of the relaxed atmosphere of the Race of Champions that we all enjoy.”
Vettel added: “To win three times in a row is something that no-one has done before, so it's a real reason to be proud.”
For Button, it was also a first – his first trip to the ROC Nations Cup final, and the newly-crowned world champion quipped: “To be out there celebrating being the first loser is never best, I don't like finishing second. It was a lot of fun – I spent most of the evening trying to hang on to my team-mate's coat tails.”
Priaulx added: “It was a great pleasure to race against Michael, I've watched him race for years. Tomorrow's Race of Champions main event will be a tough night, as I won't have a team-mate to pull me through, but it's nice to have a little success tonight.”
Host nation, China, reached the semi-finals of the ROC Nations Cup, with ROC China winner Dong He Bin winning two of his group races to help he and team-mate Han Han progress.
The main Race of Champions event, in which all 20 drivers battle individually for the Race of Champions crown, kicks off at 7.40pm on Wednesday.
Follow the event live by visiting www.raceofchampions.com.