Super Swede DTM racer Mattias Ekström defeated the apparently fallible Michael Schumacher in the finals at the Race of Champions, which took place at the new Wembley Stadium in England this weekend. It was a furious battle, with each picking up a win in the first two events. But Ekström, who won last year, built up a lead in the final heat that forced Schumacher to push his car to the limits and spin out before crossing the finish line. For those who aren't aware, the ROC pits racers from different countries and different motorsport disciplines (NASCAR v. F1 v. Rally v. Moto) on parallel tracks in short heats. It's racing for people with short attention spans. Full press release below:
Ekström beats Schumacher to The Race of Champions title
Reigning Champion of Champions Mattias Ekström pulled off the seemingly impossible at Wembley Stadium today, beating the ever-dominant Michael Schumacher in The Race of Champions final.
Taking the battle down to the wire, both motorsport heavy-weights claimed one win each in the best-of-three final. As thousands of fans held their breath, the last heat saw Ekström build up a small lead over Schumacher who pulled out all the stops to respond. It was not to be however, as the German spun his car in a dash for the chequered flag.
England fans cheered on local hero Andy Priaulx all the way to the semi-finals whilst Jenson Button lost out to an unwavering Schumacher in their second England versus Germany come-together of the day, after the earlier ROC Nations Cup.
Heikki Kovalainen provided crowds with plenty of entertainment as he reaped revenge on Sebastian Vettel, beating the German F1 driver to even the scores after Vettel's victory over the Finn in The ROC Nations Cup finals.
Kovalainen's victory was short lived however as the newly-signed McLaren F1 driver lost control of his car on the start/finish line in spectacular fashion during the next round against Priaulx, crashing the Aston Martin into the middle barriers.
Two-time DTM Champion Mattias Ekström
"I didn't start off very good but it's turned out to be a nice event. At the end of the day everybody wants to win The ROC. To come here in front of all the spectators to this nice event, for me I really enjoy it every time.
"I wouldn't say it's that easy, whether it's seven-time Formula 1 Champion or four-time Touring Car Champion, all of the drivers are very good. If you get your rhythm going, any one of them could win.
"The track layout was a bit more technical this time after France last year. The first turn on the outside was really demanding."
Seven-time Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher
"It has been truly quite a thrill! I've been here twice, and twice it has been a big pleasure. I wasn't so good in the Solution F; there is something with me where I need to see my wheels! I'm no good if I don't see them, I have been very bad in saloon cars in the past.
"We came here to enjoy ourselves, to be here for a good reason: for the ICM charity and finally to race. We do this as good as we can and sometimes one is better than the others. We can all live with this because it's not a championship so there's no pressure.
"This is my first time racing after my retirement. In previous years if you race F1 you have a lot of pressure. You are determined and focused and at one stage, at this time of year, I just liked to switch off. In 2004 I could do it but normally after a season I'm just empty by the end of the year. Now it's different so I'm open for fun events such as this. I hope I get an invitation next year!"
THE RACE OF CHAMPIONS RESULTS
1/8 final 1 Schumacher H.Solberg Schumacher
1/8 final 2 Button McRae Button
1/8 final 3 Johnson Bourdais Bourdais
1/8 final 4 Coulthard P.Solberg Coulthard
1/8 final 5 Kovalainen Vettel Kovalainen
1/8 final 6 Priaulx Muller Priaulx
1/8 final 7 Ekström Kristensen Ekström
1/8 final 8 Grönholm Pastrana Pastrana
Quarter final 1 Schumacher Button Schumacher
Quarter final 2 Bourdais Coulthard Bourdais
Quarter final 3 Kovalainen Priaulx Priaulx
Quarter final 4 Ekström Pastrana Ekström
Semi final 1 Schumacher Bourdais Schumacher
Semi final 2 Priaulx Ekström Ekström
Final heat 1 Schumacher Ekström Ekström
Final heat 2 Ekström Schumacher Schumacher
Final heat 3 Schumacher Ekström Ekström
(thanks Johan, the other proud Swede) [Source: ROC]