He’s still got it: Ex-F1 star David Coulthard wins 2014 Race of Champions

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The eighth time was the charm for David Coulthard.

“DC,” the 13-time Formula One Grand Prix winner, defeated Mercedes F1 reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein in the final of the 2014 Race of Champions in Barbados to become “Champion of Champions” in his eighth ROC appearance.

Meanwhile, the ROC’s three U.S. drivers – NASCAR’s Kurt Busch, IndyCar’s Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Robby Gordon – all bowed out in the quarterfinal round.

You can watch a one-hour highlights show of this weekend’s ROC on Thursday night, Dec. 18, at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Prior to today, Coulthard’s best ROC finish was a runner-up result to rallying legend Sebastien Loeb in the 2008 edition in London.

“I’m retired, but it’s lovely to get another trophy,” said Coulthard, who then proceeded to praise Wehrlein for his efforts.

“I think everyone here recognizes that we have a star here for the future,” Coulthard said of Wehrlein. “He’s already signed up with Mercedes’ Formula One team as a reserve driver, he’s winning races in DTM…Motorsport is in good health.”

Today’s best-of-3 final between Coulthard and Wehrlein started in the KTM X-Bow. Coulthard drew a warning for touching a barrier on the opening lap, but ran a clean second lap around the course and beat Wehrlein to the stripe by 1.4 seconds.

That led to Race 2 in the Ariel Atom Cup car. The race tightened up considerably in the second lap before Wehrlein put two wheels off-course in the final corner, allowing Coulthard to pull away and earn the title-clinching win.

“It was so much fun but at the end, David was really quick. I couldn’t beat him,” Wehrlein said of his final round. “For me, it’s a bit tough to drive a manual shift car and brake with the right foot, the clutch and everything. I was struggling a bit with that.”

As for the Americans, their days started with lots of promise but ended abruptly in the quarterfinals.

All three men swept their three respective heat races in the group stage to advance to the knockout rounds. But in the quarterfinals, they all went down: Busch to V8 Supercar champ Jamie Whincup in the Audi R8 LMS, Gordon to Wehrlein in the ROC Car, and Hunter-Reay to European F3 champ Esteban Ocon in the X-Bow.

Afterwards, Gordon said he thought Wehrlein should have been given a time penalty in their match for hitting a barrier.

“Obviously, he’s a very capable driver but he did clip the barrier and that should be [a penalty of] five seconds,” Gordon said. “[But] the reality is, he was fast. He was fast even with clipping the barrier, so it is what it is.”

In a later interview on the streaming broadcast, Gordon indicated that he also had issues with second gear being broken on his ROC Car.

Busch dubbed the quarterfinals as the “American eliminator round,” perhaps a reference to the last cut in the Chase for the Sprint Cup in his own series.

“I thought we had a better shot with us three [Americans] in it, and none of us got through that round,” said Busch.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”