Monday, September 24The Voice of London

ROC: England Bring Back The Cup, And It Wasn’t Jenson Button

European Touring Car Champions Andy Priaulx and Jason Plato win the 2015 ROC Nations Cup first time for England after a head to head race with German dream-team Sebastian Vettel and Nico Hulkenberg.

Words: Ena Bilobrk, Subeditor: Ludovica D’Angio

Video: Ena Bilobrk

ROC Nations Cup competitors presenting the different cars. Source: Ena Bilobrk
ROC Nations Cup competitors presenting the different cars. Source: Ena Bilobrk

The former Olympic Stadium was barely filled with spectators. But the hardcore motorsport fans that did come were cheering for their favourite drivers, shielding themselves from biting wind and polar-like temperature.

The show opened with the Celebrity Skill Challenge including Joey Essex, 2003 Rugby World Cup winner Mike Tindall, Olympic gold medalist in cycling Sir Chris Hoy and many more, mainly Olympic, athletes.

After a rather slow celebrity performance with buggies out of control, flying cones and a happy Sir Hoy winning the challenge, the real masters of racing had their turn. They fought a hot battle with a mix of cars, including the Mercedes AMG GT S, Ariel Atom Cup and a Euro Nascar.

The powerful Euro Nascars. Source: Ena Bilobrk
The powerful Euro Nascars. Source: Ena Bilobrk

Team Americas with Ryan Hunter-Reay and reigning World Touring Car Champion Jose Maria Lopez and team Brazil represented by Formula One superstars Felipe Massa and Nelson Piquet dropped out in the first round.

2014 finalists Team Scotland was joined in the drivers lounge soon by Team All Stars, with F1’s Romain Grosjean and newly crowned Skill Challenge Champion Sir Chris Hoy.

Last year’s winners Team Nordic only made it to the semifinals. Tom Kristensen’s and Petter Solberg’s dreams of returning the silverware to Scandinavia got shattered and everybody’s darling Jenson Button and his Team-England-mate Alex Buncombe followed their example.

But there was another Team England, which did reach the finals and fought till the end against the mighty Germans.

In the first round of the final Priaulx surprisingly defeated four-time F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel. Nico Hulkenberg saved them from losing in the first round beating Plato in the second heat.

Car-fan heaven. The Mercedes AMG GT S. Source: Ena Bilobrk
Car-fan heaven. The Mercedes AMG GT S. Source: Ena Bilobrk

In the end Andy Priaulx and Nico Huklenberg kept the fans at the edge of their seats delivering two rounds. Priaulx kept his nerves and secured the first ever ROC Nations Cup for England.

Sebastian Vettel showed to be a good loser: “It hurts, a lot, but Andy drove fantastically tonight. So, well done. They deserved to win and it’s especially nice in front of your home crowd.”

Plato added: “So this has to go down as one of the highlights of my career, to race against the caliber of these guys, who are the best in the world. It can’t be underestimated what it means to race in front of your home crowds. We’re in an iconic stadium and you can hear them as you cross the line.”

The youngest driver in the competition, Pascal Wehrlein, who was competing in the Nations Cup for Team Young Stars, presented the very highlight of the day.

You were able to hear the powerful V8 engine before you had the pleasure of having a glance the 2013 Mercedes Formular One car.

Wehrlein clearly enjoyed himself showcasing one of the fastest cars ever built and left a big mark on the racetrack; hopefully on Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, as well…

Wehrlein drawing doughnuts on the track. Source: Ena Bilobrk
Wehrlein drawing doughnuts on the track. Source: Ena Bilobrk

The 21-year-old is the rising motorsport superstar to look out for and has the best chance of joining the highest realms of this sport, the F1.

And there is plenty of more action to come on the last day of the Race of Champions, where the horse-power-elite fights against each other for the title of the fastest driver in the world.