PWRC champion Benito Guerra took a surprise 2019 Race of Champions victory in the individual event beating Loic Duval in a straight fight at his home event in Mexico.
Rally racer Guerra, who recently competed in selected rounds in the WRC2 class, was crowned the champion of champions in the final of the 2019 Race of Champions in Mexico on Sunday evening when he beat Loic Duval two-nil.
The Mexican made it look like easy, first winning in the RX Superlite car and finishing it off in the KTM X-Bows to take the trophy home – much to the delight of the home crowd. The fans had a lot to cheer as three Mexicans made it to the Semi-Final of the event.
Guerra was put in a tough Group C where he had Sebastian Vettel, Mick Schumacher and Daniel Suarez against him. The 33-year-old made it to the Quarter-Final after beating Vettel and Suarez as the F1 champion was knocked out in a major upset.
After racing as Team Germany, it was Schumacher who beat Vettel in their final bout to knock him out – the only winning trophy that Vettel took home was the ROC Skills Challenge that he won. Meanwhile, the Group C winners then faced Group D winners where Esteban Gutierrez and Pierre Gasly made it through.
The two beat Enzo Bonito and Ryan Hunter-Reay as sim racer Bonito had another scalp to his name when he beat Hunter-Reay after beating di Grassi on Saturday. At the same time, Duval had to come through a qualifier where he faced and beat Helio Castrovenes.
In his Group C, he had Lucas di Grassi, Johan Kristofferson and Josef Newgarden where he progressed along with Kristofferson. The two faced Group A winners where Patricio O’Ward and Tom Kristensen made it through.
They beat Abraham Calderon and David Coulthard, thereby ending any chance for reigning champion David Coulthard to defend his title. In the QF, Duval beat Kristensen to progress into the SF 1 to face Pato O’Ward, who defeated Kristofferson.
Mick Schumacher was then knocked out by Esteban Gutierrez in the other QF as the former F1 driver had Benito Guerra against him in SF 2 after the rally driver beat Pierre Gasly in his bout. Guerra made it three F1 drivers in his hit list as he progressed to the Final after beating Esteban Gutierrez.
Meanwhile, Loic Duval got the better of Pato O’Ward as the Frenchman eventually lost out to Benito Guerra in the finale with the Mexican becoming only the third driver in ROC history to win at home after Sebastien Loeb in 2005 and Carlos Sainz Sr in 1997.
“This feeling is completely amazing,” said Benito Guerra. “I’m lost for words but really happy. It’s incredible to compete against so many of the world’s top drivers. I had to face many great drivers along the way, not least three F1 drivers in Pierre Gasly, Esteban Gutierrez and Sebastian Vettel.
“So this is an amazing moment for me, definitely one of the highlights of my career. It was a very tough competition, but I’m really happy to come out as the number one. Thank you so much to Fredrik Johnsson and his team for bringing the Race Of Champions to Mexico and for doing such a perfect job putting on this event”.
“Of all the amazing cars we drove, my favourite was the Vuhl. I’m proud to be a Mexican driving a Mexican car in front of a Mexican crowd. Thank you so much to all the crowds for supporting me too, it felt incredible. This win is for Mexico.”
Debutant Loic Duval added: “Of course I would have loved to win today, but I’m very happy with my achievement in reaching the Grand Final – and to be beaten by a Mexican in Mexico was special”.
“In these races you never know how to balance being conservative and going for it, but in the end I lost against the best man on the day. All the people were of course cheering for Benito but that was fine by me, it just meant the atmosphere was incredible”.
“Mexico is one of the best countries for supporting motorsport and it’s nice to have this kind of support and to see people waving flags in the crowds. This whole weekend has been an awesome experience, to hang out with all these great drivers and to talk about everything, not just racing”.
“I didn’t drink too much last night, which probably helped. But there is always another day – and hopefully I can come back to the Race Of Champions again in the future to go one step further.”
[Read: Nations Cup report]