Team Nordic’s Tom Kristensen and Johan Kristoffersson took a stunning victory in the ROC Nations Cup at Mexico City’s Foro Sol.
On a sunny afternoon in the Mexican capital, legends from the world’s biggest motor sport series teamed up in pairs to battle for national and regional pride. They raced a mix of cars – including the VUHL 05 ROC Edition 2019, Ariel Atom Cup, Stadium Super Truck, RX Supercar Lite, Speed SXS UTV, KTM X-Bow and ROC Car – on a purpose-built pursuit track.
Kristensen and reigning World RallyX Champion Kristoffersson prevailed in the final against Team Germany duo Sebastian Vettel and FIA Formula 3 European champion Mick Schumacher. In the first heat Kristensen held off the challenge of four-time F1 world champion Vettel by two races to one.
Schumacher struck back in style for Team Germany by beating Kristoffersson 2-0 in the second heat. But in the end Kristensen, competing in a record-equaling 15th Race Of Champions, was too strong in the finale to seal the ROC Nations Cup final for Team Nordic.
“That was a very tight fight, as you saw with my race with Sebastian,” Kristensen said. “Then Mick had a brilliant fight with Johan that brought them to the third race. He should be very proud of himself on his first visit to the Race Of Champions – and I’m always proud any time to beat a Schumacher.
“So we are both very proud to take Team Nordic to the win today. It was Johan who brought us into the final, because he was very strong early on. He started the day better and I finished the day better, and it worked out in the end. This was my 15th appearance here, equaling Stig Blomqvist’s record. I hope Stig is watching it somewhere and I hope he’s a bit proud of me even if I’m not a Swede!”
Beaten finalists Team Germany also had a fine afternoon’s work, but they narrowly missed out on bringing home the trophy.
Schumacher said: “This was a great experience, and it was special to share it with Sebastian. He’s done an awesome job and without him we wouldn’t have made it into the final. So we’re happy to have had a good run in the ROC Nations Cup, now we can turn our focus to tomorrow’s individual Race Of Champions.”
The home fans enjoyed cheering on Team Mexico’s F1 star Esteban Gutierrez and 2018 Indy Lights champion Patricio O’Ward all the way to the semifinals, before they were defeated by Team Nordic.
Team Brazil (Helio Castroneves and Lucas di Grassi) also made it as far as the semifinal before they were beaten in straight heats by Team Germany.
The afternoon’s action began with the 10 teams split into three round-robin groups. On a day of match-ups between huge stars of world motor sport, many superstars fell by the wayside at this early stage.
Team France (F1 ace Pierre Gasly and Le Mans star Loic Duval) were one of the early casualties, defeated in Group A despite a win apiece. Team Infinitum Mexico (Memo Rojas and Benito Guerra) also went out despite two wins. Both teams were defeated by Team Germany and Team Mexico, who both progressed with four wins each. Team Germany were placed at the top of the group as a result of having the fastest times in the ROC Skills Challenge.
Team Brazil came out on top of Group B with three wins at the expense of two teams who were only decided this morning. Team Sim Racing All Stars (eROC world final winners Enzo Bonito and James Baldwin) took a win apiece but went out. Team Telcel Mexico (NASCAR ace Daniel Suarez and ROC Mexico kart race winner Ruben Garcia Jr.) also left at this stage with a single win between them.
Team Nordic’s Group C triumph with three wins also resulted in some of motorsport’s biggest names leaving the competition. Team Great Britain (David Coulthard and Andy Priaulx) ended up on two wins while Team USA’s pair of IndyCar champions Ryan Hunter-Reay and Josef Newgarden finished with a single victory.
After the ROC Nations Cup finished it was time to raise the national pride stakes even further with a special ‘Mexico versus the World’ contest. This time the home drivers took on all the other drivers in a head-to-head shootout in both sim racing and real cars in a race to collect a total of seven points.
The world team secured early wins on the track with Formula 1 superstars Vettel and Gasly. And while Mexico hit back through Team Telcel Mexico’s Garcia and Suárez, ROC Nations Cup finalists Kristoffersson and Schumacher sealed the victory before the world team went on a lap of honor of the Foro Sol stadium.