Sun 04 December 2011
Sébastien Ogier delivered a thrilling performance to eclipse 15 fellow superstars of motorsport and win the Race Of Champions on a packed afternoon of competition at Düsseldorf’s ESPRIT arena.
Ogier, who took five wins in this year’s World Rally Championship, overcame Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen in the best-of-three Grand Final on the ROC parallel track to earn the title of Champion of Champions at his very first attempt.
"I’m so happy," said Ogier. "It was a very nice weekend and it was already great to be in the final at my first time. There are a lot of cars to learn here and the track as well. But I didn’t do too badly and I pushed hard all the way. Tom is a really good driver but to win this race is amazing."
Following Team Germany’s win last night in the ROC Nations Cup, the Race Of Champions pitted 16 of the biggest names in motorsport against each other in head-to-head combat in a variety of different cars.
Kristensen reached the Grand Final with a stunning victory over seven-time F1 world champion Michael Schumacher by less than two hundredths of a second. Ogier prevailed over DTM champion Martin Tomczyk in the other semi-final.
“Sébastien is a very deserved winner," said Kristensen. "He had the edge on cold tyres, especially in the ROC car. But beating both Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher was a really big achievement for me today, particularly in Germany. It’s almost better than Christmas!”
An epic quarter-final clash saw Schumacher face Vettel, his team-mate from last night’s ROC Nations Cup victory. In a reverse of the result from their meeting at this stage of the competition last year, reigning F1 world champion Vettel was knocked out by his fellow countryman.
In the other quarter-finals it was bad news for Britons as Andy Priaulx was beaten by Ogier, David Coulthard succumbed to Tomczyk and Jenson Button was defeated by last night’s ROC Nations Cup finalist Kristensen.
The action began with a bang in the round-robin group stage, which featured four groups of four drivers battling for the right to line up in the knockout stages.
There was an early shock in Group A as last year’s Champion of Champions Filipe Albuquerque went out without taking a single win – though he had a car failure to blame in the first heat. Instead it was Priaulx who dominated the standings with three wins out of three, ahead of Coulthard, who also progressed with two wins, and Travis Pastrana who was eliminated with his single win.
Group B held similar bad news for three-time ROC Champion of Champions Mattias Ekström, who was edged out of the running with just one win out of three – along with IRC rally ace Jan Kopecký. The Czech driver beat Ogier in the Skoda rally car but Ogier nonetheless progressed alongside Tomczyk with two wins each.
Schumacher and Button both progressed comfortably from Group C, with the German coming out on top in their third race of the weekend in the World Touring Racecar. Last night’s ROC Nations Cup finalist Juho Hänninen was knocked out with just one win this time around, over action sports star Brian Deegan.
Group D was always looking like the hardest quartet to call, and so it proved. Vitaly Petrov was eliminated but in the end Vettel, Kristensen and Romain Grosjean all took two wins apiece. It came down to a showdown on the best lap times in the Skoda rally car – and Grosjean missed out on the knockout stages by just half a second.
To kick off the day Formula 1 racer Heinz-Harald Frentzen did bring home some glory for Germany as he defeated race and rally veteran Marc Duez in the final of the ROC Legends Cup. Rally legend Stig Blomqvist and former racer Hans-Joachim Stuck were knocked out in the group stages.
If you’ve enjoyed the 2011 Race Of Champions, sign up for all the latest ROC updates at www.raceofchampions.com, @raceofchampions on Twitter or Race Of Champions on Facebook.