Practice makes perfect for ROC stars
The superstars of world motorsport are ready to do battle in The Race of Champions this weekend after practice concluded this evening on the unique parallel track in Dusseldorf's ESPRIT arena.
New Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel was among the drivers taking part in the final practice session this evening on the specially-constructed indoor track. Also on track were NASCAR ace Carl Edwards, motorcycling great Mick Doohan, Travis Pastrana, Jason Plato and Tanner Foust.
The group pushed to the limit -- and beyond when Vettel went straight through a trackside barrier and into a gravel trap in the KTM X-Bow.
After the final practice session, the second group of drivers held a press conference to give their thoughts on the weekend's event. This is what they had to say:
Sebastian Vettel: "It has been quite a journey since Abu Dhabi. So far I am enjoying it a lot and I have another busy weekend here. It is nice for Michael and myself to be racing in front of our home crowd and it is special to have The Race of Champions in Germany. This is a different world compared to F1 but it's lots of fun to compete against drivers from different areas of motorsport. We are here to enjoy ourselves but as soon as we put our helmets on we all go back to race mode and try to beat the guy next to us. In practice this evening I was pushing hard and just after the bridge the car went straight on - my eyes were turning right but my car wasn't so I ended up in the gravel trap. If I do that tomorrow or Sunday it is not going to be great for me!"
Michael Schumacher: "This is a great opportunity for Sebastian and I to race in front of our home fans. The Race of Champions has been successful in other countries in the past and now, coming to Germany at a special time with Sebastian winning the world championship, it is the perfect way to celebrate the end of the season. It is a perfect set-up here and I think it will be a very special event. Of course, Sebastian and I will try to get some more silverware for Team Germany - that is a big motivation for us. We want to give the fans a good show; we have won the ROC Nations Cup three times already so naturally we hope for number four this weekend."
Carl Edwards: "I am very excited to be here and hopefully we can do well for Team USA in the ROC Nations Cup, as well as for myself in The Race of Champions on Sunday. It's an honour to be here and I am looking forward to it. I reached the semi-finals of The Race of Champions back in 2008 when I beat a certain guy called Schumacher in the quarter-finals - that was a big day for me. I really enjoyed that and I hope it happens again. Practice went well today so you never know."
Mick Doohan: "I really enjoy The Race of Champions and I have been lucky enough that they keep inviting me back. I only race cars two times a year which is not a lot compared to the other guys here who are driving week in, week out. It is a real pleasure for me to be here competing with guys who are at the top of their game and I will try my best."
Travis Pastrana: "The first time I ever really drove a WRC car was at The Race of Champions and I was up against Markus Gronholm. I was down a couple of seconds and tried to make it all up in one corner - it didn't work because I ended up having my first big crash in a rally car! But I have had some more enjoyable moments and in 2006 I had a really good run to finish second in the ROC Nations Cup. Team Germany keeps beating everyone so with this event being in their home country I am really excited about beating those guys!"
Jason Plato: "It is great to be back here at The Race of Champions. It's going to be fun and the trophy looks nice - I can certainly find a place for one like that at home! It is a big incentive to look at the drivers assembled here; they are the greatest in the world and it is really a pleasure for me to be alongside them. If Team GB can get to the same level as these legends it will be a big day for me."
Tanner Foust: "This is my third Race of Champions and it's amazing to come back again. I am looking forward to another shot at it. The trick to this event is to get all the cars to suit you. During your short practice sessions you don't have a lot of time with each car so you need to remember exactly where the braking point is at each corner. Practice was tricky earlier because there isn't much rubber down so it is quite slippery but that should change tomorrow."