Text: Brent Co / Photos: Brent Co | posted December 18, 2012 02:46
Team Germany extends streak to six in Bangkok
German drivers Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel have just added another title to their already successful racing careers as they won their sixth straight ROC Nations Cup at the Rajamangala National Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.
Motorsport legends from different disciplines raced for national pride as they drove a mix of cars that included the Audi R8 LMS, Lamborghini Gallardo Super Trofeo, VW Scirocco, Toyota GT86, KTM X-Bow, Euro NASCAR, and the ROC Car on a purpose-built parallel track.
Early on in the group stage, Team France composed of WRC star and reigning ROC ‘Champion of Champions’ Sebastian Ogier and Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean earned their semifinal berth as they took four victories. Team All-Stars composed of eight-time Le Mans 24-Hour race winner Tom Kristensen and two-time MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo took three wins to take the second semi-final slot. Team Americas with Indycar Champion Ryan Hunter-Reay of the USA and WRC Production Champion Benito Guerra of Mexico also had three wins but failed to qualify based on the countback of fastest laps. Great Britian composed of retired F1 driver David Coulthard and three-time WTCC Champion Andy Priaulx also failed to qualify with both drives only scoring one victory each.
Schumacher and Vettel swept their field that composed of Thailand’s Nattavud Charoensukhwatana and Tin Sritrai; Australia’s Mick Doohan and Jamie Whincup; and India’s Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok. The German duo made it six for six for a perfect group stage. Entering the semi-finals following the Germans were five-time 500cc MotoGP Champion Doohan and four-time V8 Supercar Champion Whincup, who scored three victories. Fresh from their ROC Asia victory, Team India failed to qualify for the semifinals with only one win apiece of both drivers. Host nation Thailand may not have made it through but Tin Sritrai’s victory over Doohan definitely gave the home crowd something to cheer about.
In the semifinals, Grosjean bested Kristensen in a nail-biting fraction of a second difference aboard the Audi R8 LMS, while Ogier vanquished Lorenzo in the Toyota GT86 duel to bring France into the finals. Schumacher schooled Whincup by a wide margin in the duel between the Euro Racecars, while Vettel managed to beat Doohan on the Lamborghini Gallardo Super Trofeo despite receiving a yellow-card penalty for hitting a barrier.
In the final showdown, Schumacher showed Grosjean some moves with the KTM X-Bow to win with a two-second margin giving Germany the advantage. Vettel further put the nail on the coffin as he edged out Ogier in the ‘battle of the Sebs’ with a nearly two-second margin as well. The German drivers made it a perfect 10 for 10 for the 2012 ROC Nations Cup as they extended their record to six-consecutive titles.
"This is a historic day. It was already very special to win five times in a row but this new record just feels great. The Race Of Champions is a nice event with a nice set-up, there are great guys here and tough competition," said Schumacher.
"Even Michael hasn’t managed six titles in a row before so this is something special. Six years is a long time and now we can look back and know we’ve won for the last six years," added Vettel.