Thirteen time Grand Prix winner David Coulthard has taken his first Race of Champions crown after dominating all who came before him as the competition finished its island holiday in Barbados.
A losing finalist in yesterday’s ROC Nations Cup, it was clear that Coulthard had decided he wasn’t going to settle for second best this time out and showed that his experience racing a variety of ROC’s machinery paid off big time in the finale.
That said, while he did dominate his group – the quarter and semi-finals were not as easy as they should have been for the former Red Bull Racing driver. In the quarter final, against Petter Solberg, he almost lost the deciding heat as he ran wide on the first corner of the last lap and lost a lot of time, however Solberg hit the wall later round on the lap and Coluthard managed to sneak through to move into the semi-finals.
In the semi-final he seemed to have the measure of V8 SuperCar’s legend Jamie Whincup but again a poor last lap in the final heat saw him edge out the Australian by only 0.175 seconds to get into the ROC final.
His opponent was a man in his first ROC championship and that makes the fact he reached the final more remarkable. That man is Mercedes test driver Pascal Wehrlein and his run to final was slightly smoother. His first knock-out stage clash was with talented American Robbie Gordon and it was only a gear selection issue for Gordon that saw Wehrlein sail through to a semi-final clash with F3 champion Esteban Occon.
The semi turned out relatively easy for the German who saw off Occon after a magnificent display in the ROC buggies to ensure of a place in the final.
That turned out to be when Coulthard got his groove back, the Scot took only two of the three heats to get the measure of Wehrlein – the first heat saw Coulthard take a 1.5 second win in the buggies before bagging an almost three second victory in the Ariel Atom Cup in heat two.
Coulthard, was graceful in victory and full of praise for his opponent, commenting after the event: “We’ve had a fantastic week, never mind a fantastic race weekend. So huge thanks to all the wonderful people of Barbados for coming out – and of course to Fredrik Johnsson and his team at ROC. I’m retired so it’s lovely to get another trophy. But I think everyone can see that in Pascal we have a star for the future. He’s already signed up with Mercedes in Formula 1 as a reserve driver and winning races in the DTM so motor sport’s in good health with great young drivers like this.”