Loeb wins Race of Champions at Wembley

Sebastian Loeb took the overall victory to be crowned Champion of Champions at the Race of Champions in Wembley Stadium in London.

Podium: Race of Champions winner S?bastien Loeb lifts the winner's trophy.
Photo by xpb.cc.

"It was a tough fight," Loeb commented. "It's good to come here because it's the only opportunity we have in the season to meet so many other drivers."

The five time World Rally champion and a two time previous winner of the event got off to a bad start this year. Loeb had drawn fellow Frenchman and World Touring Car champion Yvan Muller for the first heat and made a good progress off the line. The level of grip on the newly laid track caught him out and he crashed through the barriers at the first corner.

"I had done only one race in the Nations Cup, so I didn't have the experience, and all the drivers have to fight in the start of the Race of Champions, so I didn't feel so confident," said Loeb.

Loeb appeared to be in an unrecoverable position losing around five seconds from the first corner incident, but he kept plugging away and miraculously turned the race around.

"I was very lucky to be in the final because I crashed in the first corner of the first heat with Yvan, but I somehow managed to win."

Loeb then continued his winning streak beating Formula One star Sebastian Vettel and World Touring car racer Andy Priaulx on his way to the podium.

Loeb was matched against David Coulthard for the final. The crowd was obviously rooting for the Brit who recently announced his retirement from F1. Coulthard had a great event as he took wins over Irish Tarmac Rally driver Gareth MacHale and Drift champion Tanner Foust before ending the chances of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Carl Edwards on his way to the final.

Loeb took the first win of the three race decider in commanding style beating Coulthard in the ROC buggy. Coulthard had to win the next heat to stay in the event, he pulled it off with victory in the KTM X-Bow. For the tie-breaker the pair had a choice of an Abarth 500, RX 150 or Ford WRC cars available, but returned to the ROC buggy. Loeb repeated his earlier win but this time it was much closer.

After winning the title in 2003 and '05, Loeb missed the event last year after the birth of his first child. This year he was back and lifted the Race of Champions cup for the third time.

"It was a good atmosphere," Loeb said. "For sure in the Stade de France I had more fans, but that's normal because it's in France. But here it was a good atmosphere also. It's always a nice moment to come here because it's a unique opportunity to see drivers from Formula One, motorbikes, NASCAR, everywhere."

Coulthard had suffered a disappointing end to his F1 career by not making it past the first lap in his final race. He had a much better time in Wembley and put in a superb performance at the Race of Champions.

"I had a little bit of energy left for this event because I only did two corners in Brazil!", quipped Coulthard. "I've never been this far in the tournament, but I came up against a multiple world champion, and to be not so far behind, I'm very happy with that."

The seven time F1 champion Michael Schumacher may have been one of the pre race favorites but this year he was knocked out By NASCAR ace Edwards. Edwards at his first Race of Champions event was in what was certainly very unfamiliar machinery but he beat the German in commanding style and clearly made a huge impression on the British crowd in the process.