Monday, July 23The Voice of London

ROC: Vettel Does It And Schumi Must Be Proud

Four-time Formula One Champion Sebastian Vettel has won the Race of Champions 2015. He overtook 19 fellow drivers from various different motorsport categories until he was finally able to raise the ROC trophy for the first time in his career.

Words: Ena Bilobrk, Subeditor: Jack Everitt

Video: Ena Bilobrk

Sebastian Vettel hugging his PR team. Source: Ena Bilobrk
Sebastian Vettel hugging his PR team. Source: Ena Bilobrk

Vettel beamed with joy: “I have tried to win this many times and I failed many times, but finally I have succeeded.”

Formula One’s most successful driver ever, Michael Schuhmacher, has never been able to get his hands on this trophy, after losing the finals twice. But with Vettel as his partner in crime, he has won six consecutive ROC Nations Cups for Germany, a record no other country has matched.

With their greatest driver in mind, ROC organizers have used the publicity to drive attention to a danger that not just drivers should be aware of. Before the final race, the drivers unfolded a banner in cooperation with the institute for advanced research in brain and spinal cord injuries ICM.

Schumacher is recovering from a spinal cord injury since his skiing accident two years ago and his colleagues payed an emotional tribute to him with “We miss you Michael, keep fighting” written across the banner.

‘Schumi’ must have been delighted with the turnout for the final race. The former Olympic Stadium was almost three times as busy as the day before and the crowd braved wind and weather just to see their racing heroes hitting the gas pedal.

Even the drivers felt the buzzing atmosphere and turned out to be more competitive than the previous day. The air in the drivers lounge crackled with tension between the competitors.

After Le Mans 2015 winner Nico Hulkenberg lost against his German teammate Sebastian Vettel his mood reflected the ice-cold weather. The home crowd at the iconic venue was also left disappointed after McLaren speedster Jenson Button was eliminated from the competition.

Big names of motorsport, such as Felipe Massa and Daniel Ricciardo, weren’t fast enough to catch the two finalists nine-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Tom Kristensen and Ferrari-jokester Sebastian Vettel.

But the Dane had to realise soon, that no one messes with a determined Vettel, who reportedly bought himself a buggy to practice for the ROC. Kristensen tipped his hat to Vettel: “ Seb is a brilliant winner. He drove brilliantly and he showe that skill in the final. I gave my all and it was close, but he was really on it here.”

ROC runner-up and Champion with the Skills Challenge winner Peter Solberg. Source: Ena Bilobrk

Besides all that competitive behavior, ROC is primarily about having fun. The newly crowned Champion explained: “What the Race of Champions gives us is a lot of joy. When we were kids starting to race, we did it for pure joy and this event is a good reminder of that.”

Pure joy was watching stunt driver Terry Grant setting a new world record for the most people in a car with two wheels. The crowd held their breath when Grant gave 15 people the ride of their lives in a Range Rover Sport SVR tipping it carefully on the side and driving a lap on the circuit on two wheels.

It can be said that ROC’s return to London after the Wembley disaster was a full success with an amazing turnout despite the cold weather. “Today I had the feeling I found it straight away. It was very cold but it was a great atmosphere, so thank you very much to everyone for coming to watch”, said Vettel giving the crowd their fully deserved credit.

Hopefully next year’s competition will turn out equally as fun with. Here is a summary of the very special and funny moments of ROC 2015.