- Emanuele Pirro won the ROC Legends race at Portimão’s Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, seeing off seven other greats of motorsport to take the title
Pirro beat fellow former Formula 1 star Johnny Herbert in the final after a tense evening of racing at Portimão
Filipe Albuquerque earlier took home glory as he won ROC Portugal in front of the local fans, defeating countryman Armindo Araujo in the final
Five-time Le Mans 24-Hour race winner Emanuele Pirro is celebrating tonight after he was crowned the winner of the ROC Legends race at ROC South Europe. The Italian emerged triumphant after a tense one-race shootout in the final against three-time F1 grand prix winner Johnny Herbert.
“This is a wonderful feeling,” said Pirro. “I’m now old enough to be classed as a legend and I’ve come to many Race Of Champions events before but to come out on top feels great. This track is a much more technical one than we’re used to at ROC events and everything went well for me. The crowd was great tonight, very ‘hot’ – but any Race of Champions event is cool…”
This was the second year in a row that Herbert had reached the ROC Legends final, following his defeat to Andy Priaulx in 2009.
“It was going well on the first lap,” said Herbert. “On the second lap I just couldn’t quite slow down at the chicane and I caught the wheel on the right at the exit, bending the suspension. After that going right was fine but going left was impossible. Sadly there were still lots of lefts…
“But that’s the way it goes. I didn’t make a mistake in the semi-final whereas Dindo did, but I made a mistake in the final while Emanuele had a clean race. So well done to him.”
Herbert defeated three-time Le Mans 24-Hour race winner Dindo Capello in the semi-final. The Italian had won all his group heats but he sensationally crashed out two corners from home while leading in his KTM X-Bow. Pirro beat rally star Armin Schwarz in his semi-final.
The drivers knocked out in the group stages were five-time 500cc world motorcycle champion Mick Doohan, world rally champion Stig Blomqvist, two-time world rally champion Marcus Grönholm and Portuguese off-road legend Filipe Campos.
All the action was followed by an enthusiastic crowd at Portimão’s Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, who were also treated to shows by the Red Bull X-Fighters and stunt driver Terry Grant.
Earlier this evening Filipe Albuquerque took the home glory as he won ROC Portugal in front of the local fans at Portimão. Albuquerque, a former A1GP race winner, defeated seven of his fellow countrymen to take the title, beating Armindo Araujo in the final.
The two finalists will be joined by Alvaro Parente, the fastest semi-finalist, in Team Portugal for tomorrow’s ROC Iberia. The trio will battle against Team Spain, made up of current WRC star Dani Sordo, Paris-Dakar winner Juan ‘Nani’ Roma and WTCC driver Sergio Hernandes.
Later tomorrow evening Portugal, Spain, Italy and Monaco will fight it out for the ROC South Europe crown. The winning team will earn a place in the ROC Nations Cup World Final at Düsseldorf’s ESPRIT arena in November.
*The 2010 Race of Champions World Final will be held at Düsseldorf’s ESPRIT arena on November 27-28. The driver roll call already includes seven-time Formula 1 world champion Michael Schumacher, four-time F1 world champion Alain Prost, 2010 F1 title contender Sebastian Vettel, six-time world rally champion Sébastien Loeb, eight-time Le Mans 24-Hour race winner Tom Kristensen and three-time world touring car champion Andy Priaulx.
More superstar drivers will be announced as November approaches. Tickets are available from the website www.raceofchampions.com with prices starting at 29 Euros.
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