Double DTM champion Mattias Ekstrom has taken his third Race of Champions title – by winning every single race he competed in then beating Michael Schumacher in the event’s final.
The Swedish touring car and rallying star took the prize after outdriving triple World Touring Car champion Andy Priaulx, five-time Moto GP champion Mick Doohan and multiple X-Games gold medallist Travis Pastrana in the group stage.
He beat eight-time Le Mans 24 Hour winner Tom Kristensen in the quarter finals and newly-crowned F1 World Champion Jenson Button in the semi-final.
Ekstrom said that the flexibility born of driving many different types of race car was the key to his success in the competition, which aims to pit champions from different disciplines against each other on equal terms.
He said: “I was born in the countryside in Sweden and drove lots of different cars as a boy, plus I’ve also had the pleasure of racing a lot of good touring cars, sportscars and rally cars. That is what makes the difference for me.
“I look across at Michael on the start line and I think ‘why should I beat him? His driving his spotless’. A tenth of a second here and there isn’t a lot but sometimes it is enough and driving against Michael is always a pleasure.
“I always pretend to be thinking about whether to come to The Race of Champions or not but actually I’m never thinking about it.”
Schumacher said: “It has been a nice event, all in all, as always. It has the right mixture of seriousness behind the wheel and a relaxed atmosphere in which to meet some good guys.”
F1 World Champion Jenson Button reached the semi-finals, having won his group and beaten his Nations Cup team-mate Andy Priaulx in the quarter-finals. Sebastian Vettel, runner-up to Button in the F1 World Championship, also reached the penultimate round before losing to his Team Germany team-mate Schumacher.
David Coulthard made it out of the group stages but was knocked out by his Red Bull colleague Vettel in the quarter-finals. Vettel went on to crash in the semis, handing a place in the final to Schumi.
Full results can be found at http://www.raceofchampions.com and a race by race account of The Race of Champions 2009 will appear on the site shortly.