|ROC winner||Harri Rovanperä|
|ROC finalist||Armin Schwarz|
|ROC semi-finalists||Duval and A McRae|
|ROC Nations Cup winners||Spain (J Puras/F Alonso/R Xaus)|
|ROC Nations Cup finalists
||All Stars (H Rovanperä/T Kristensen/T Bayliss)|
The 10th consecutive Michelin Race Of Champions to be held in Gran Canaria saw first-time entry Harri Rovanperä scoop the spoils by defeating Germany’s Armin Schwarz by two heats to one in Sunday’s closely fought final. Earlier, the impressive Finn had ended the determined charge of François Duval in the semi-finals, having already accounted for top seed, Marcus Grönholm, in the quarter-final.
Schwarz had also done well to earn his place in the final showdown, having first seen off the lightning fast, NASCAR star, Robbie Gordon, who crashed more than one car but also set the fastest ever lap time. Schwarz then put an end to Alister McRae’s unblemished record at the semi-final stage.
Prior to Sunday’s finale, the competitive action got underway in dramatic style in Saturday’s ROC Nations Cup. The group stages and knockout rounds produced no end of thrills and spills, reaching a tumultuous crescendo when the Spanish team (Jesus Puras, Ruben Xaus and Fernando Alonso) defeated the All-Stars (Harri Rovanperä, Troy Bayliss and Tom Kristensen) in the final, to send the 25,000 strong home crowd into raptures.
Also on Saturday, the young and the old of world rallying took to the stage in the first ever Junior Rally Masters competition and the ROC Legends. Stig Blomqvist has made the Legends title his own, winning for the third year in succession with consummate ease. The Junior competition was much tighter, with a final contested between two of the future talents of the WRC, France’s Sébastien Loeb and Belgium’s François Duval. This, the first of many battles between the pair, was on this occasion won by the 20-year-old Duval.