Mon 14 September 2009
Pirro and Piccione win Euromilhoes ROC South Europe to book Monaco’s place at Race Of Champions Grand Final in Beijing.
• Monaco beat Spain’s Sainz and Sordo 3-1 in the final
• Portugal’s Araujo and Albuquerque eliminated 3-2 by Monaco in semi-finals following one ten thousandth of a second race win in deciding heat
Five-times Le Mans winner, Emanuele Pirro and A1GP star, Clivio Piccione proved too fast for both a strong Spanish and Portuguese pairing at the inaugural Euromilhoes ROC South Europe in Porto this evening, winning the contest to book Monaco’s place at the ROC Nations Cup in Beijing on November 3.
Endurance racer Pirro, a twenty-two year resident of Monaco, and Piccione, the twenty five year old Monegasque racer, created a formidable pairing which beat the Spanish WRC duo of Carlos Sainz and Daniel Sordo by three heats to one in the best-of-five final, with Sordo winning Spain’s only heat and Piccione presiding in both his head-to-heads.
After the victory, Piccione was thrilled : ‘It was very important to win here because we are representing our country, which I already do for Monaco in the A1 Grand Prix. I’m very proud of that, and as well as that, this time we will come back home with a trophy!…and we are going to Chinaaaaa!”
Piccione’s team-mate, Emanuele Pirro is a big fan of the Race of Champions concept : “ Ok we won with Clivio Piccione, but again the real winner of the weekend was the Race of Champions. It is so fantastic to be so close to the public, to be all weekend long with other drivers who compete during the season in other categories... I think it was a great pleasure for the thousands of people who came here to see us racing, but it is also the case for us drivers, because here in the Race of Champions there is a very particular ambiance and we really have a lot of fun. Also, winning ROC South Europe and being qualified for the International Race Of Champions in Beijing is such a big moment !”
Despite the comfortable margin of their victory in the final, it was by a hair’s breadth that Monaco had prevailed over the Portuguese pairing of Production WRC leader, Armindo Araujo and A1GP racer, Filipe Albuquerque in the semi-final. In the best of five heat contest, it was beautifully poised at 2-2 before Piccione beat his fellow A1GP racer, Albuquerque by one ten thousandth of a second, the narrowest margin of victory in Race of Champions history, in the deciding heat to see Monaco through.
Spain had earlier beaten the Italian pairing of Miki Biasion and Gigi Galli by three heats to nil in the other semi-final.
Despite the elimination of their local heroes in the semi-finals, the crowd gathered at FC Porto’s Estádio do Dragão remained in good spirits to cheer along the Spain v Monaco challenge. Race of Champions founder, Fredrik Johnsson was delighted by how the first-ever regional final had been received: ‘We are experiencing an ever-increasing demand for places from countries at our annual Grand Final. It is our intention that this becomes the first of several regional finals around the world in years to come.
‘Congratulations to Monaco. Both Emanuele and Clivio produced excellent performances, and as a team they were unstoppable.’
Earlier in the evening, Filipe Albuquerque had beaten Daniel Sordo by two heats to nil in the final of the Euromilhoes ROC Iberia. Both drivers thereby won the right to drive beside Araujo and Sainz for Portugal and Spain respectively in the ROC South Europe.