Coulthard triumphs in 2018 Race of Champions!

2018 RoC champion David Coulthard and runner-up Petter Solberg
© Race of Champions

Former Formula 1 driver David Coulthard has won the 2018 Race of Champions individual event, held on Saturday afternoon at Riyadh’s King Fahad International Stadium.

Coulthard had already taken the RoC crown in 2014 in Barbados. He had also been a finalist when the event was held in Britain at Wembley Stadium in 2008.

This year he faced double World Rallycross champion Petter Solberg in the grand final. The former Williams, McLaren and Red Bull driver was able to see off Solberg in straight heats. The first saw them racing in the Whelen Euro NASCAR, while the second was in Vuhl 05 machines.

"I had to work hard out there and my heart is beating hard now!" Coulthard said afterwards. "Thanks to Petter for a great race. He’s a great sport and a great champion."

Coulthard's triumph was in contrast to the disappointment of Friday's RoC Nation's Cup. He and his Team GB team mate Lando Norris had gone out of the competition in the first round.

"When I went out of the ROC Nations Cup yesterday after winning just one race out of three, my son switched off the TV because he thought ‘Daddy’s too old’" he laughed. "I’m delighted to show him experience can be a good thing too.

"Today I pushed hard but it’s also about being clean. I touched the wall once over the course of the day but other than that I kept it on the track."

Coulthard had battled his way through the early rounds to face Tom Kristensen in the semi-finals. The nine-time Le Mans winner has been the Race Of Champions runner-up six times, but has never won. Coulthard proved superior at the wheel of the Xtreme Pickup.

Kristensen had earlier put out Juan-Pablo Montoya in the quarter finals. Montoya had been part of the Team Latin America line-up that was runner-up to Germany in Friday's competition. The Dane won three races out of three in Saturday's initial group heats.

Coutlhard also had a perfect record in his group races, as did Solberg. The Scot's quarter-final victim was 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, while Solberg defeated Sweden’s FIA European F3 runner-up Joel Eriksson in the first head-to-heads.

The Norwegian then claimed the scalp of 2017 FIA World Rallycross Champion Johan Kristoffersson in the semis in Vuhls, before ultimately succumbing to Coulthard in the final.

"I was doing everything I could to win it, but it wasn’t quite enough today," he admitted. "David drove very well.

"He has the right mentality so this was very well deserved. He’s a better circuit driver than me, that’s for sure. I still like to be a bit more sideways!"

The biggest accident of the afternoon went to reigning IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden. He locked up his brakes and hit the barriers while facing off against Kristoffersson in the quarter finals in Ariel Atoms.

McLaren development driver Lando Norris also suffered an accident in the heat round while driving one of the Xtreme Pickups. He was forced to withdraw from the competition and missed out on a duel with DTM Champion Rene Rast.

However neither Rast nor his Team Germany team mate Timo Bernhard went on to make it through from the heat stages. It was rather a comedown for yesterday's Nation's Cup victors.

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