14 December 2014
RoC: Kristensen leads Team Nordic to Nations Cup success
Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen played a key role in guiding Team Nordic to success in the first Race of Champions Nations Cup to be held in Barbados.
Tom Kristensen and Petter Solberg have added to already prestigious motorsport resumes by leading Team Nordic to 2014 Race of Champions success at Bushy Park in Barbados.
The duo defeated Team Scotland's David Coulthard and Susie Wolff by two heats to one in the final, while home heroes Team Barbados – comprising the relatively unheralded Dane Skeete and Rhett Watson – joined Team France in reaching the event's semi-finals
On a hot afternoon in the Caribbean, the assorted motorsport legends paired up to battle it out in Ariel Atom, Audi R8 LMS, Stadium Super Truck, VW Polo RX, KTM X-Bow, ROC Car and Euro NASCAR machinery on a purpose-built parallel track at the RoC's new home in Barbados.
Before the racing got underway, the drivers unfurled a banner in conjunction with the Institute for Advanced Research into Brain and Spinal Cord Injuries in honour of absent friend Michael Schumacher as he continues his recovery from the skiing accident he suffered nearly a year ago.
Schumacher and fellow countryman Sebastian Vettel had won a record six consecutive RoC Nations Cup titles prior to this weekend but, unable to defend their honour, found themselves replaced by an equally deserving pairing.
Le Mans legend Kristensen and FIA World Rallycross champion Solberg prevailed in the final as the Dane defeated Williams F1 test driver Wolff and then overcame Coulthard in the deciding heat after the Scot had beaten Solberg to ensure the event went the distance. Having taken the fight to Kristensen, Coulthard spun off at the final corner to confirm the Dane – and Team Nordic – as victors.
Team Barbados delighted the home fans with a magnificent RoC Nations Cup debut, making it through to the semi-final before they being beaten by Scotland. Skeete kept the crowd on the edge of their seats by defeating Wolff, but Coulthard came out on top in the end with two wins.
Even more success lay ahead for Team Barbados as they went on to win the inaugural ROC Caribbean, beating Team Jamaica in the final after seeing off Team Guyana and Team Trinidad & Tobago in the group stages.
In the other Nations Cup semi-final, Team Nordic beat Team France pair Romain Grosjean and Esteban Ocon by two heats to one. Kristensen and Grosjean both won their original heats, before the Dane avenged his defeat in the 2012 individual Race of Champions final by beating Grosjean to take his team through.
Earlier in the afternoon, Team Nordic (four wins) and Team France (three wins) both progressed through the round-robin Group A to reach the semi-finals. Team Young Stars were only eliminated on countback of fastest lap time after they joined Team France on three group wins – two for Mercedes F1 reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein and one for GP2 Champion Jolyon Palmer.
Team Americas were also knocked out despite seven-time off-road champion Robby Gordon's two wins. But World Touring Car Champion José-Maria 'Pechito' López did give the crowd some memorable early entertainment as he rolled one of team-mate Gordon's Stadium Super Trucks.
Team Scotland topped Group B with five wins out of six – three for Coulthard and two for Wolff. Team Barbados joined them in the semi-finals, knocking out Team USA on fastest lap time after both finished on three wins. Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay took two wins and NASCAR champion Kurt Busch one win, but it was not enough. Team Australia's five-time MotoGP world champion Mick Doohan and six-time V8 Supercar champion Jamie Whincup also went out despite Whincup's late consolation victory.
Action continues in Barbados on Sunday as the drivers will put their regional friendships aside and go it alone in the individual Race of Champions. The group draw for the initial stages of the competition is as follows:
Romain Grosjean (F1 and reigning RoC Champion of Champions)
Jamie Whincup (V8 Supercars)
David Coulthard (F1)
Mick Doohan (MotoGP)
Petter Solberg (WRC and Rallycross)
Kurt Busch (NASCAR)
Susie Wolff (F1)
plus fastest Team Barbados driver from ROC Caribbean
José-Maria Lopez (WTCC)
Robby Gordon (NASCAR and Off-Road)
Esteban Ocon (F3)
plus fastest ROC Caribbean driver from the other teams
Tom Kristensen (Le Mans)
Ryan Hunter-Reay (Indycar)
Jolyon Palmer (GP2)
Pascal Wehrlein (DTM)
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