Race of Champions: Kristensen, Solberg (Team Nordic) win Nations Cup; Americans out in group stage

0 Comments

Nine-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen and new FIA World Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg captured the Race of Champions Nations Cup on the first day of ROC action from Bushy Park Circuit in Barbados.

Kristensen and Solberg, paired together as Team Nordic, defeated the Team Scotland group of former F1 pilot David Coulthard and current F1 reserve driver Susie Wolff, 2-1, in the final.

Kristensen beat Wolff in the first heat race, only for Coulthard to respond by knocking off Solberg. That set up a tie-breaker between Kristensen and Coulthard, which ended with the former winning as the latter went off at the final corner.

The home team, Team Barbados, also had a strong Saturday as drivers Dane Skeete and Rhett Watson advanced out of the group stage and then pushed Team Scotland to a third race in the semifinals.

Additionally, the local boys won the ROC Caribbean tournament over driving teams from Jamaica, Guyana, and Trinidad & Tobago.

The U.S. was represented by Indy 500 champ Ryan Hunter-Reay and former NASCAR Sprint Cup champ Kurt Busch (Team USA) as well as jack of all trades Robby Gordon, who was paired with FIA World Touring Car champ Jose Maria Lopez of Argentina as Team Americas.

Unfortunately for the star-spangled trio, neither of their teams managed to escape the aforementioned group stage.

In Group A, Team Nordic’s four wins and Team France’s (F1’s Romain Grosjean and European F3 champ Esteban Ocon) three saw them through to the knockout rounds over Team Americas’ two wins, both from Gordon.

Hunter-Reay and Busch combined for three wins in Group B (two from RHR, one from Busch) to put them level with Team Barbados behind Team Scotland’s five wins. But the Barbadians grabbed the last advance spot over Team USA on fastest lap time.

With the Nations Cup decided, the main event awaits Sunday at 11 a.m. ET. As in the Nations Cup, the main event will begin with a round-robin group stage.

The top two drivers from each group will move on to the knockout rounds and compete to be called “Champion of Champions.” Here’s the round-robin draw:

Group A
Romain Grosjean (reigning ROC Champion of Champions)
Jamie Whincup
David Coulthard
Mick Doohan

Group B
Petter Solberg
Kurt Busch
Susie Wolff
Fastest Team Barbados driver from ROC Caribbean

Group C
Jose Maria Lopez
Robby Gordon
Fastest ROC Caribbean driver from other teams
Esteban Ocon

Group D
Tom Kristensen
Ryan Hunter-Reay
Jolyon Palmer
Pascal Wehrlein

A highlights show of this weekend’s events will air Thursday, Dec. 18, at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Three-time W Series champ Jamie Chadwick joining Andretti in Indy NXT Series for 2023

3 Comments

Jamie Chadwick, the three-time W Series champion, will drive for Andretti Autosport in the Indy NXT Series next season.

Chadwick will make her debut in an American racing series in March, driving the No. 28 for Andretti Autosport with sponsorship from DHL. The 24-year-old will become the first female driver in 13 years to compete full time in the Indy NXT championship.

Chadwick joined the female free-to-enter W Series in its inaugural 2019 season, winning two races and the first of three consecutive championships. She has been a reserve driver for the Williams Formula One team and will continue in that role in 2023. She also has driven in the Extreme E Series.

Despite her success, Chadwick hasn’t landed a bigger ride in F3 or F2, and her break didn’t come until Michael Andretti contacted her and offered a test in an Indy NXT car.

The final three races of this year’s W Series schedule were canceled when funding fell through, but Chadwick still believes the all-female series was the right path for her.

“W Series has always been and will continue to be an opportunity to be racing for every female driver, so for my side, I looked at it while perhaps I would have liked to step up maybe earlier, at the same time being able to have that chance to race, get that experience, have that development, seat time… I was constantly learning,” Chadwick told The Associated Press.

“In that sense, I wasn’t frustrated at all. But on the flip side of it, now I’ve had that experience testing in the United States in Indy NXT and this is something I’m really excited about.”

Chadwick also is expected to have an enhanced role as a development driver next season with Williams, which chose American driver Logan Sargeant to fill its open seat on next year’s F1 grid.

“Andretti Autosport is proud to be supporting Jamie alongside DHL,” said Michael Andretti. “Jamie’s successful career speaks for itself, but Indy NXT gives Jamie the opportunity to continue her development in a new type of racing.

“We’ve turned out five Indy NXT champions over the years and look forward to continuing our role in developing new talent.”

Indy NXT is the new name of the rebranded Indy Lights Series, the final step on the ladder system before IndyCar.

Andretti will field two drivers next season in IndyCar that were developed in Indy NXT: Kyle Kirkwood, the 2021 champion, will return to Andretti after one season in IndyCar driving for A.J. Foyt Racing, and Devlin DeFrancesco is back for a second season.

Chadwick will be teammates in Indy NXT with Hunter McElrea and Louis Foster. She becomes Andretti’s second full-time female driver alongside Catie Munnings, who competes for Andretti United in the Extreme E Series.