Text by: Ben Photos by: Ben
With all the drivers selected during the Friday round of the Race Of Champions, the crowds gathered on Saturday for the Nations Cup. As the name states, this is a team race which aims to find out which nation is the fastest around the track.
The countries are split into 2 groups, within which each pair of driver get to race against all the countries in their group. From a spectator’s point of view, the race order is a bit confusing, and if it wasn’t for the big screen displaying the status of the rosters, it would be hell to understand.
Another factor that seems to be decided very randomly is the cars used for each round. After talking to Nattavude Charoensukawattana, one of the two Thai drivers who won the selection process during the Friday race, he admitted that they were just sit in any of the cars and sent to race at the beginning of each round.
But hey, that does not really matter, honestly, as we’re always happy to see two famous drivers lining up in no less famous cars to trash it out on a little track, right?
Once again on this day, the ROC showed the ingenuity of the parallel track: from wherever you stand around the track, you can see the whole action, and never miss a slide or an engine giving way, like it happened to Lorenzo’s R8 LMS.
The Nation’s Cup’s roster was as follows:
Team France (Sébastien Ogier & Romain Grosjean)
Team Great Britain (David Coulthard & Andy Priaulx)
Team Americas (Ryan Hunter-Reay & Benito Guerra)
Team All Stars (Tom Kristensen & Jorge Lorenzo)
Team Germany (Michael Schumacher & Sebastian Vettel)
Team Thailand (Nattavude Charoensukawattana & Tin Sritrai)
Team Australia (Mick Doohan & Jamie Whincup)
Team India (Narain Karthikeyan & Karun Chandhok)
After the driver’s parade, the chequered flag waved off the first Group A race, which pitted Romain Grosjean against David Coulthard at the wheel of Audi R8 LMS’.
While Romain Grosjean lost to the British racer by a mere 5 hundredth of a second, he and Sébastien Ogier fought the rest of the roster to bring France in the Group A Semi Finals.
Standing out of the crowd to face the French team in Semi finals was the Team All Stars, driven by Tom Kristensen and MotoGP racer Jorge Lorenzo who showed that he could not only steer a handlebar, but he could also race with a wheel.
While the Great Britain and American teams sat by the side of the track to watch the rest of the competition, the Group B races pitted Germany, Thailand, Australia and India took over the black top.
Even with the roaring support given by the local crowd, Team Thailand was not able to withstand the full force of the Vettel and Schumacher tag-team, which stormed through the track to get to the Group B semi-finals.
While the other drivers tried their best to measure up to the Germans, the pace they set was too much for some drivers, such as motorbike expert Mick Doohan, who missed a braking point and ended his race against Vettel in the track dividers.
This was not the end for team Australia though, as they won their other roster face-offs and went to join the Germans in the Group B semi finals.
The race day carried on with the Group A semi finals which pit Team France against Team all Stars composed of the Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo and the Danish Tom Kristensen.
Neither the Le Mans 24-Hour Race skills of Kristensen, nor the MotoGP abilities of Lorenzo were a match for Ogier’s WRC reflexes and Grosjean’s GP2 and F1’s lust for speed, and Team France moved on to the Finals.
On the Group B side, the crowd-favourite German duo made quick work of Team Australia and proceeded to face the French for the cup.
With the title of being the World’s Fastest Nation in the balance, the French tried to keep the cup out of the German’s reach, but Schumacher and Vettel had clearly decided that nothing would come between them and making Germany win the title for the sixth year in a row.
Calling it a race would be like calling a face-off between Bruce-Lee and Mini-Me a fair fight. The Germans gave the French a spanking and won two heats to nil. Ouch.
The crowds cheered as the Germans were smoking out the tyres of their ROC buggy and the fun and excitement was just enough to keep the crowds patient until the Race Of Champions per se, which was to take place on Sunday.
Stay tuned for the Sunday coverage!