Porto, 8th June 2009
Pirro and Piccione win Euromilhoes ROC South Europe to book
Monaco’s place at Race of Champions Grand Final in Beijing.
Five-times Le Mans winner, Emanuele Pirro and A1GP star, Clivio
Piccione proved too fast for both a strong Spanish and Portuguese
pairing at the inaugural Euromilhoes ROC South Europe in Porto this
evening, winning the contest to book Monaco’s place at the ROC Nations
Cup in Beijing on November 3.
Endurance racer Pirro, a twenty-two year resident of Monaco, and
Piccione, the twenty five year old Monegasque racer, created a formidable
pairing which beat the Spanish WRC duo of Carlos Sainz and Daniel
Sordo by three heats to one in the best-of-five final, with Sordo winning
Spain’s only heat and Piccione presiding in both his head-to-heads.
After the victory, Piccione was thrilled : ‘It was very important to win here
because we are representing our country, which I already do for Monaco
in the A1 Grand Prix. I’m very proud of that, and as well as that, this time
we will come back home with a trophy!…and we are going to Chinaaaaa!”
Piccione’s team-mate, Emanuele Pirro is a big fan of the Race of
Champions concept : “ Ok we won with Clivio Piccione, but again the real
winner of the weekend was the Race of Champions. It is so fantastic to
be so close to the public, to be all weekend long with other drivers who
compete during the season in other categories... I think it was a great
pleasure for the thousands of people who came here to see us racing,
but it is also the case for us drivers, because here in the Race of
Champions there is a very particular ambiance and we really have a lot of
fun. Also, winning ROC South Europe and being qualified for the
International Race Of Champions in Beijing is such a big moment !”
Despite the comfortable margin of their victory in the final, it was by a
hair’s breadth that Monaco had prevailed over the Portuguese pairing of
Production WRC leader, Armindo Araujo and A1GP racer, Filipe
Albuquerque in the semi-final. In the best of five heat contest, it was
beautifully poised at 2-2 before Piccione beat his fellow A1GP racer,
Albuquerque by one ten thousandth of a second, the narrowest margin of
victory in Race of Champions history, in the deciding heat to see Monaco
Spain had earlier beaten the Italian pairing of Miki Biasion and Gigi Galli
by three heats to nil in the other semi-final.
Despite the elimination of their local heroes in the semi-finals, the crowd
gathered at FC Porto’s Estádio do Dragão remained in good spirits to
cheer along the Spain v Monaco challenge. Race of Champions founder,
Fredrik Johnsson was delighted by how the first-ever regional final had
been received: ‘We are experiencing an ever-increasing demand for
places from countries at our annual Grand Final. It is our intention that
this becomes the first of several regional finals around the world in years
‘Congratulations to Monaco. Both Emanuele and Clivio produced
excellent performances, and as a team they were unstoppable.’
Earlier in the evening, Filipe Albuquerque had beaten Daniel Sordo by two
heats to nil in the final of the Euromilhoes ROC Iberia. Both drivers
thereby won the right to drive beside Araujo and Sainz for Portugal and
Spain respectively in the ROC South Europe.
The previous day ....
Priaulx Prevails Over Herbert In All British Race Of Champions
Three-times FIA World Touring Car Champion, Andy Priaulx defeated F1
and Le Mans winner, Johnny Herbert by two heats to one in a best-of-
three heat final of the ROC Legends exhibition event, staged in Porto
tonight as part of the inaugural Euromilhoes ROC South Europe.
Andy Priaulx went into the final full of confidence, boosted by an
unblemished record, having won all his three qualifying heats against
Herbert, Carlos Sainz and Emanuele Pirro, and then his semi-final
against five-times MotoGP World Champion, Mick Doohan.
Despite losing the first heat of the final in the KTM X-Bows, Priaulx
managed to maintain the focus he had previously demonstrated on the
night and win the next two heats in ROC Cars and finally the Solution F
prototypes. He was quick to pay tribute to his fellow finalist: ‘I’m honoured
to have raced against Johnny. While he was driving in Formula 1, he just
made me dream about one day being a professional driver, and racing
with him was a real honour. He is truly one of the British motorsport
legends, one of my heroes and it was a big and very special moment for
me. I’m very proud to win the first event of its kind here in Porto.’
‘I have experience of the Race of Champions now having raced at
Wembley Stadium for the past couple of years,’ he continued, ‘so I know
some tricks. It’s a real advantage because a lot of the drivers are racing in
these conditions for the first time here in Porto.’
Having narrowly qualified from the group stages, Herbert overcame the
semi-final challenge of his former F1 adversary, Heinz-Harald Frentzen,
previously unbeaten on the night, by three tenths of a second.
Herbert was disappointed to lose the final but thrilled it was Priaulx who
beat him: ‘I’m happy to lose against Andy, a younger British driver…but I
was unlucky during the last heat because it began to rain just for me in
this part of the track (he said with a smile). No, to be honest, it is a nice
win for Andy, he deserves it like he deserved his three FIA World Touring
All of the action, which included exhibitions headlined by the Red Bull X
Fighters, was enjoyed by an enthusiastic crowd in FC Porto’s state-of-the-
art Estádio do Dragão.
Earlier in the evening, Miguel Barbosa won the Euromilhoes ROC
Portugal opener, and will tomorrow race with A1GP’s Filipe Albuquerque,
Juan Pedro Fontes and team captain, Armindo Araujo in a ROC Iberia
contest against a Spanish ensemble comprising team captain, double
World Rally Champion, Carlos Sainz, current Citroen WRC star, Dani
Sordo, 2008 British Formula 3 Champion, Jaime Alguersuari and rally
star, Sergio Vallejo.
The fastest unseeded driver from both teams will then compete
alongside captains Sainz and Araújo as Spain and Portugal race against
Italy and Monaco in the event climax, The Race of Champions South
Europe. Italy will be represented by double WRC Champion, Miki Biasion,
who will be looking to improve upon his winless performance in tonight’s
ROC Legends and WRC star, Gigi Galli, while the Monaco team will
feature A1GP star, Clivio Piccione and Emanuele Pirro, a Monaco
resident for over 22 years.