Race of Champions: Priaulx and Plato win Nations Cup
BTCC star and three time WTCC champion Andy Priaulx led the Team England 1 to the victory in the Nations Cup at 2015 Race of Champions last night at London’s former Olympic Stadium. With seven wins in seven runs Priaulx was the real hero of the competition, but his team mate and fellow BTCC driver Jason Plato also contributed to the stunning victory in front of their home fans. In the final battle England’s duo of touring car drivers were better than German duo of Formula One racers Sebastian Vettel and Nico Hulkenberg.
Twenty drivers from ten teams competed on a brand new Olympic cycling-style pursuit track witha mix of cars, including Mercedes-AMG GT S, Ariel Atom Cup, Radical SR3 RSX, KTM X-Bow, ROC Car and Euro NASCAR’s Chevrolet Camaro.
In the first heat of the final Priaulx delighted the home fans as he beat four-time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel. Vettel’s fellow F1 star Nico Hülkenberg struck back by beating Jason Plato in the second heat but Priaulx was just too strong for this year’s Le Mans winner in the finale as they became the first English team ever to win the ROC Nations Cup final.
Afterwards a delighted Priaulx said: “I had a great night. Tonight it all just hooked up. Germany have won it a few times so it’s nice to have a turn – and nice for me to win a race for once! I’ve been to the ROC Nations Cup final three times so to do the job is great. This competition is tough and it gets tougher every year so you have to be on your A game here because every race is like a qualifying session. It’s so easy to make mistakes but I’m really chuffed. Thanks to Fredrik Johnsson and all the guys at ROC for bringing us here. It’s brilliant to get the chance to race in front of our home crowd in London – what more could we ask? But tomorrow is another day…”
Plato added: “I made a few mistakes tonight so Andy’s pushed me through it but it’s a fantastic feeling to win at home. Team Germany beat us in the final the last time we did it together so it’s actually an excellent rivalry. So this has to go down as one of the highlights of my career – to race against the calibre of these guys, who are the best in the world, and to have the positivity of racing in this venue. 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.”
Last year’s ROC Nations Cup winners Team Nordic (Tom Kristensen and Petter Solberg) were stopped in the semifinal. They were beaten by Team Germany. Before that they were more successful than Team Americas duo of Jose Maria Lopez and Ryan Hunter-Reay. In the second semi-final Team England 1 beat Team England 2 pair Jenson Button and Alex Buncombe.
Other teams which competed were Young Stars (Pascal Wehrlein and Jolyon Palmer), Scotland (David Coulthard and Susie Wolff), Australia (Daniel Ricciardo and Mick Doohan), AllStars (Romain Grosjean and Chris Hoy) and Brazil (Felipe Massa and Nelson Piquet Jr).
Today is a new action day with individual races for the title ‘Champion of the Champions’.