South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers and David Coulthard of Scotland, competing as the All Stars team, were knocked out in the first round of the ROC Nations Cup in Beijing on Tuesday. It was a disappointingly short evening for De Villiers, with the reigning Dakar Rally champion beaten by Great Britain’s world touring car ace Andy Priaulx and Monaco’s former Le Mans 24 Hour winner Emanuele Pirro. Former F1 grand prix driver Coulthard lost to new F1 world champion Jenson Button and beat Monaco’s A1GP driver Clivio Piccione, but his and De Villier’s combined best lap times placed them second in their group behind Great Britain and ahead of Monaco.
Germany (Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel) claimed a third successive ROC Nations Cup title in Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium. The seven-times F1 world champion and the runner-up in the 2009 championship combined to beat Great Britain’s Button and Priaulx.
The German drivers defeated teams from host nation China and Finland in the opening rounds and then the United States in a semi-final. Schumacher beat Button in the first heat of the final in the unique ROC car, but Priaulx got the better of Vettel in the second heat in a Ford WRC. The deciding heat saw Schumacher clinch the title for Germany with a win over Priaulx in the ROC car.
De Villiers, four-times a South African touring car champion, was disappointed after his excellent second place in Monday’s ROC Challenge, but looking forward to today’s feature Race of Champions, in which all 20 drivers take part. “This is a tough competition and you can’t afford to make even a little mistake. The ROC cars are very different to the Volkswagen Race Touareg I normally drive,” said De Villiers. “It’s a great honour to have been invited to compete in this prestigious competition against some of the best drivers in the world. David was a good team-mate, but tonight I’m on my own and I’m really looking forward to the experience and soaking up the amazing atmosphere here in the Bird’s Nest stadium.