Friday, November 20, 2015

England Defeats Germany; Wins Nations' Cup

The first half of the 27th Race of Champions is in the books and the Nations' Cup is in new hands.

The hosts England won the Nations' Cup as British Touring Car drivers Andy Priaulx and Jason Plato defeated the daunting German pairing of Formula One's Sebastian Vettel and Nico Hülkenberg. Priaulx defeated Vettel in the first heat of the final with Hülkenberg forcing a third and Nations' Cup deciding race. Priaulx defeated Hülkenberg in a KTM X-Bow finale.

Priaulx and Plato had to take the long-way to the final as they had to compete in a preliminary matchup against the Brazilians Felipe Massa and Nelson Piquet, Jr. and they swept them to move on to the quarterfinals to face the Young Stars pairing of Pascal Wehrlein and Jolyon Palmer, who defeated Team All-Stars of Romain Grosjean and Sir Chris Hoy in three races. Priaulx defeated Wehrlein and had to defeat Palmer in a third race to make it to the semifinals. It was an all-English semifinal as the BTCC drivers met Jenson Button and Alex Buncombe. Priaulx defeated Buncombe and forced Button to defeat Plato. Priaulx would knock off Button in the third race to make it to the finals.

This is the first time the Nations' Cup has gone to England. Germany had won six consecutive Nations' Cups they participated in. Germany was not represented in last year's Race of Champions. The 2014 Nations' Cup winners Team Nordic of Tom Kristensen and Petter Solberg made the semifinal but were swept by Germany. Kristensen lost to Vettel in the first race by less than a tenth of a second. Kristensen needed to defeat Ryan Hunter-Reay in a third race in the quarterfinals after the American defeated Solberg in the second race of that quarterfinal matchup. Kristensen defeated José María López in the first race.

The closest race of the evening occurred in the England-Scotland quarterfinal. Jenson Button defeated David Coulthard by 0.0051 seconds to eliminate Scotland after Buncombe defeated Susie Wolff in the first heat.

Coulthard will get an opportunity to defend his Champion of Champions crown tomorrow afternoon. The only other past Champion of Champions winner competing in this year's edition of Race of Champions is Romain Grosjean, who won the event in 2012. A European driver has won every Champion of Champions competition but a German has never held the honor. No Englishman has ever won Champion of Champions. Beside Coulthard, the only other British driver to win it was Colin McRae in 1998. The two previous Race of Champions to take place in London were won by Mattias Ekström and Sébastien Loeb.