Team Germany Retain ROC Nations’ Cup

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The German duo of Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher won the Race of Champions Nations' Cup for the third year running, seeing off Team Autosport GB in the final.

The event, moved to the Olympic Stadium in Beijing and brought forward by a month compared to its normal date still saw some great racing as 10 pairs of drivers fought for glory.

The final, which pitted Team Germany against Britons Jenson Button and Andy Priaulx, lasted the full three races.

The first race which used the almost trademark ROC buggies saw Button take on Schumacher, with the seven time world champion beating the current holder of that title. It then looked possible that the Germans would take a clean sweep of the final before Vettel span his Ford Focus WRC in the second rubber, handing victory to Priaulx.

That set up a worthy climax to nearly three hours of racing, with the seven time F1 champion taking on the three time World Touring Car champion to decide the winner.

Schumacher won comfortably in the end and capped off what had been a dominant performance by he and Vettel, who won all six of their races in the initial group stages against China, Finland and Australia, before facing Team USA in the semi final.

The Americans were, arguably, the stars of the event, as a team devoid of NASCAR talent saw X-Games and Rally America driver Tanner Foust and Travis Pastrana put on stellar displays on track, with just the right amount of madness behind the scene.

In the semi-final it looked like they would send the Germans home, as first Foust beat Schumacher, before Pastrana headed Vettel after lap one of their two lap race around the Bird's Nest Stadium. The 2009 F1 runner-up, however, was able to claw back the deficit in the second lap before going on to beat Foust in the last of the three races.

It was a similar story in the second semi-final as Button won the first race of rally driver Han Han of team China. The second race looked to be the end of the round as Priaulx led comfortably over former A1GP driver and Williams F1 tester Ho-Pin Tung, before the Channel Islander was judged to have jumped the start, the driver later complaining that his car was rolling forward despite the clutch being engaged.

The track, which kept the tried and tested layout, replete with tunnel and jump, was marginally wider than in previous years, with the drivers able to reach slightly higher speeds, and although the racing was purely for honour it didn't stop the drivers from reaching, and occasionally passing the limit.

Much of the damage that resulted was confined to a brief period in the group stages as the third pool of teams – France, USA and Scandanavia – took to the track.

First to start ranking up the damage bill was Tom Kristensen, who slid the black liveried KTM X-Bow into the wall before entering the tunnel. The impact sent the car briefly airborne (to the almost visible terror of Kristensen's passenger) before landing and running off the track with the right rear suspension severely damaged.

The group stages were not a good time to be a KTM X-Bow, with Australian motorcycle legend Mick Doohan already having rearranged the rear suspension before Travis Pastrana climbed aboard one to race Mattias Ekstrom to find a gearbox that was uncooperative at best.

However, they were not the only cars that may need repair before tomorrow's individual event as, in the race following Kristensen's off, both of the Vauxhall Astra look-alike Solution F Prototypes ended with damage.

First, French Dakar driver Guerlain Chicherit spun his car in the final corner, clouting the concrete barrier separating the parallel lanes, the front wheels riding up the barrier before coming back down to earth with the car facing the wrong way.

Meanwhile, his opponent Ekstrom was dealing with his own problems, with the left rear suspension on his car collapsing on landing, the double DTM champion and twice ROC winner doing well to limp the remaining race distance without further damage.

The individual Race of Champions competition is tomorrow (Wednesday) noon GMT and can be seen live on The Checkered Flag.

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