Ogier beats Kristensen for RoC crown
4 December 2011 – Sébastien Ogier has won this year’s Race of Champions event at the Esprit Arena in Düsseldorf, claiming the highly sought-after title during what was his maiden appearance in the competition. The WRC driver got the better of experienced rival Tom Kristensen in the overall final, outracing the Dane in both of their head-to-head races.
"I'm so happy," 27-year-old Ogier, who picked up three wins en route to third place in the WRC standings this season, explained. "It was a very nice weekend with lots of fun. And then I win like this! Thanks Germany, it was amazing!"
The Frenchman comfortably made it through the initial group stages with two wins out of a possible three, before knocking out Andy Priaulx and Martin Tomczyk in the following quarter and semi-final races. This set up the highly-anticipated shootout with Kristensen, a battle that was ultimately too challenging for the eight-time Le Mans winner to overcome.
Unlike Ogier, some of the competition's biggest names struggled for pace on Sunday, including 2010 Champion Filipe Albuquerque. The Portuguese driver failed to amass enough victories against his fellow Group A drivers, with Priaulx and David Coulthard the men able to secure the two quarter-final places up for grabs in that quartet.
Jan Kopecky, who won a notably thrilling race against Ogier in Group B, was another man who could not do enough to progress past the heats, joining Mattias Ekstrom, Juho Hänninen, Brian Deegan, Romain Grosjean and Vitaly Petrov on the sidelines.
Sebastian Vettel endured a surprise defeat to Michael Schumacher in the final eight, before the latter was narrowly eliminated one race later. Jenson Button also made an early exit, being beaten by ultimate runner-up Kristensen in the last quarter-final.
The Race of Champions will return in the closing stages of 2012