Ekstrom wins Race of Champions

Mattias Ekstrom won the 2009 Race of Champions in China last night

Mattias Ekstrom won the 2009 Race of Champions in China last night

Swede Mattias Ekstrom completed a remarkable hat-trick of Race of Champions titles, beating seven-time F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher in the final last night.

The double DTM champion added the 2009 crown to the back-to-back ROC titles he won in 2006 and 2007.

Ekstrom now sits equal on outright ROC wins with Sebastien Loeb (three), one behind rally legend Didier Auriol.

On his way to the title, Ekstrom won his group races over triple World Touring Car champion Andy Priaulx, five-time motorcycle champ Mick Doohan and multiple X-Games gold medallist Travis Pastrana.

Ekstrom 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 put his continuing success at The Race of Champions down to his upbringing.

“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,” he said.

Schumacher was complimentary of the event.

“It has been a nice event, all in all, as always,” he said.

“It has the right mixture of seriousness behind the wheel and a relaxed atmosphere in which to meet some good guys.”

Button reached the semi-finals, having won his group and beaten compatriot Priaulx in the quarter finals but was beaten by Ekstrom in the semi. Sebastian Vettel also reached the penultimate round but lost to Schumacher.

For the Australians, it was a frustrating evening. Doohan crashed his KTM X-bow against the concrete barrier, arguably claiming the biggest accident of the day. Chad Reed was also eliminated early.

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