Race Of Champions 2010 Grand Final

BY Burnpavement

Filipe Albuquerque lifts The Race of Champions trophy on his debut in the Grand Final in Düsseldorf while while Team Germany triumphs in the ROC Nations Cup.

Photos: ROC

Filipe Albuquerque delivered a thrilling performance to eclipse 15 superstars of motor sports and win The Race of Champions at his first attempt in Düsseldorf. In front of a packed ESPRIT arena the Portuguese driver overcame World Rally champion Sébastien Loeb 2-1 in the best-of-three Grand Final on the specially-constructed parallel track to earn the title of Champion of Champions.

Following Team Germany's win in the ROC Nations Cup, The Race of Champions pitted 16 of the biggest names in motor sports against each other in head-to-head combat in a variety of different cars. ROC South Europe winner Albuquerque's route to the final took him past Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel in a very tight semi-final following his quarter-final triumph against fellow Portuguese driver Alvaro Parente.

Loeb reached the Grand Final courtesy of a quarter-final win over eight-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen followed by victory against would touring car star Andy Priaulx in the powerful Audi R8 LMS. In another quarter-final, an epic clash saw home favourites, and F1 rivals, Vettel and Schumacher clash in KTM X-Bows. Victory went to the younger man by just over half a second. Priaulx beat Bertrand Baguette in the other last-eight tie.

Earlier, the action began with a bang in the round-robin group stage, which featured four groups of four drivers fighting it out for the right to line up in the knock-out quarter-finals. In the very first race of the day, Heikki Kovalainen suffered a huge accident after the chequered flag when his Audi R8 LMS ploughed through the barriers and hit the concrete wall hard. The F1 driver escaped injury but needed a precautionary visit to a local hospital for checks which prevented him taking any further part. He and Jeroen Bleekemolen were eliminated from Group A as Loeb and Baguette progressed.

Group B saw motorcycling hero Mick Doohan miss out along with Travis Pastrana, who suffered a stall, a last-corner defeat and a spin in his three races. Priaulx won all three races while Kristensen also went through. It was close too in Group C, where Albuquerque and Vettel took the top two spots, knocking out NASCAR front-runner Carl Edwards and X-Games gold medallist Travis Foust.

The final group of the first round featured an incredible combined 11 F1 world championships and Schumacher beat Alain Prost by just over a second in a closely-fought contest in the ROC Car. Schumacher won all three first-round races with Parente going through as runner-up. Current British touring car number one Jason Plato missed out, as did Prost, who spun out of his last race in the KTM X-Bow.

In the ROC Nations Cup, Team Germany, featuring new Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel and seven-time champion Michael Schumacher, beat Team GB's Jason Plato and Andy Priaulx in the final to win the prestigious trophy for an incredible fourth time in succession.

The ROC Nations Cup trophy has been won for the last three years by Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher for Team Germany and they did not disappoint a big home crowd. Schumacher squared up against Team GB's Plato in identical KTM X-Bows for the first race of the best-of-three final and made the perfect start, winning by just under two seconds. The action switched to Audi R8 LMS cars for the second race, which Priaulx won to keep the contest alive and set up a head to head with Schumacher for the title.

An incredibly tight deciding race in ROC Cars saw Schumacher narrowly defeat Priaulx and clinch Team Germany's fourth ROC Nations Cup crown to the acclaim of their home fans. Earlier in the evening, Team GB as group winners and runners-up Team France progressed through the round-robin Group A to line up a best-of-three semi-final. Team Nordic, featuring Tom Kristensen and Heikki Kovalainen were eliminated on the tie-breaker of combined times while Alvaro Parente hit a wall in a KTM X-Bow as he and Team Portugal team-mate Filipe Albuquerque were knocked out.

In the first semi-final, Team GB prevailed in two races, with Plato beating Alain Prost in a VW Scirocco before Priaulx just finished of Loeb in a Porsche 911 to eliminate Team France. In the other group, Team All Stars (Mick Doohan and Tanner Foust) and Team USA (Carl Edwards and Travis Pastrana) were knocked out as Team Germany and Team Benelux set a semi-final date. In that contest, the home fans were given a performance to remember as Schumacher beat Bertrand Baguette in a ROC Car while Vettel followed that up with an immensely popular win over Jeroen Bleekemolen in a KTM X-Bow. A total of 64,052 fans attended The Race of Champions during the course of the weekend.