Going for glory in the Race of Champions, CAR+ January 2016 | CAR Magazine

Going for glory in the Race of Champions, CAR+ January 2016

Published: 12 December 2015 Updated: 15 December 2015

► CAR rides shotgun at the Race of Champions
► Alex Buncombe battles Tom Kristensen
► Radical vs winter weather = slippery 

1) Practice? What practice?

‘Being able to hop out of one car and instantly adapt to the next one is what the RoC is all about. You might get into the Radical from a Merc AMG GT or NASCAR, and the difference is just huge. So it’s about being able to adapt fast. Next to no practice, you’re straight onto the grid.’

2) Tyres vs British winter

‘You try to get temperature into the tyres, but it’s a losing battle. When the cars come back to the pits, it’s probably about half an hour before they go back out again, so the tyres are stone cold. You get a little bit in the rears off the line, but you can’t get any heat in the fronts…’

3) Wet ’n’ dry, slip ’n’ slide

‘The conditions have made it extra tough. We had a bit of familiarisation running earlier in the week, but it was wet all the time. Today it’s not full dry, but there’s a lot more grip than there was. If it was properly wet or properly dry the racing would have been even closer.’

4) Learning curve(s)

‘When you arrive at the first corner, it’s essentially the first time you’ve tackled that corner in that car, in the dry. So you’re learning all the time, and in all of the cars nearly every driver’s found that their second lap is two seconds faster than their first, purely because you know a little bit more.’

5) Getting lost

‘The hardest section of the course was the double left of the outside circuit. It’s such a long corner you get lost as to where to turn – you try to go a bit later, a bit earlier, and it’s just hard to get it right. As for the rest of the circuit, it’s so important to be neat and tidy.’

6) You win some…

‘I had to go out at some point, I suppose! [Buncombe lost to Kristensen in the semi-finals, who in turn lost to Sebastian Vettel in the final.] It was fantastic to be down to the last four drivers in my first Race of Champions, against a Le Mans legend. Hopefully I get invited again next year!’

By James Taylor

Former features editor for CAR, occasional racer