Bajan drivers placed in ‘group of death’ for ROC
They may be the home team, but the draw certainly didn’t do them any favours.
Team Barbados representatives Rhett Watson and Dane Skeete have found themselves in the dreaded “Group of Death” for this weekend’s Race Of Champions (ROC) event at the Bushy Park circuit.
In the ROC Nations Cup, Watson and Skeete will compete in Group “B” which also includes Team Australia’s Mich Doohan and Jamie Whincup, Team UK’s David Coulthard and Susie Wolff, along with Ryan Hunter-Reay and Kurt Busch of Team USA.
Doohan is a five-time 500cc Moto GP champion, Whincup has won the V8 Supercar title six times, Coulthard is a 13-time Formula 1 Grand Prix winner, Hunter-Reay is the 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner, and Busch is a former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion.
It won’t be any easier for the home side’s representative in the Race Of Champions individual event either, as either Watson or Skeete –– whoever is the faster in the time trial –– will come up against 2014 FIA World Rallycross champion Petter Solberg, Busch and Wolff in Group “B” action.
After witnessing the draw for the Race Of Champions yesterday, Watson told Barbados TODAY that while the competition will be stiff, both he and Skeete would be putting their best feet forward.
“I’m excited more than anything else as I look around the pits at these beautiful cars. Some of them are ridiculously fast and I am very, very excited. I’m like a little kid at Christmas,” he cheerfully acknowledged.
“But having said that, we know we will be coming up against some world-class drivers. It won’t be an easy task by any means to qualify, but we will certainly be going out there and performing to the best of our abilities.”
“Racing against guys like Petter Solberg, who is one of my boyhood heroes will be fantastic. Just to go up against him and see how close I can get to him . . . I know it will be a matter of seconds off him, but just to see how close I can get to him would be a dream come through,” he added.
Watson said while he had driven on the Bushy Park track before, it would be his first time on the recently renovated ROC circuit.
“I’ve driven on the actual Bushy Park circuit, but never on the ROC circuit, but I know it’s going to be completely different because we’ll be racing in an anti-clockwise direction.
“I’ve walked the ROC track and it is technical in some places but very high speed in others. So it’s going to take a lot to adapt to that kind of circuit . . . but I think that we will be okay,” he assured.
Whether or not he fails to make it out of the qualifying rounds, or even if he somehow manages to shock the thousands of Barbadians expected to flock to the venue by creating a big upset, Watson is grateful for the opportunity to showcase his skills against some of the world’s best drivers.
It is an opportunity which he intends to grab with both hands –– literally.
“My main goal is just to drive to the best of my ability and do the best I can for Barbados and I think for Dane it is the same thing,” Wharton acknowledged.
“We aren’t going to do anything silly. We are going to try to keep our heads on and drive as fast as we can within our capabilities.”