Ekstrom won the Race of Champions shortly after finishing the Dakar Rally, while Americans Travis Pastrana and Tanner Foust fell short.
A little more than a week after completing the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia, Mattias Ekstrom won the Race of Champions (ROC) in his home country. Ekstrom races across multiple disciplines but is perhaps best known for racing in the DTM series in an Audi RS5.
In case you're not familiar with the concept, the Race of Champions is an annual event in which the world's best motorsport drivers duke it out on an icy track. Last year, Sebastian Loeb won it for the fourth time, beating Sebastian Vettel, who won it three times before. Loeb was otherwise occupied this year, leaving a gap for Vettel to tie, but instead, Ekstrom ended up taking it for the fourth time.
Surprisingly, Vettel fell short earlier in the championship, leaving Mick Schumacher and Ekstrom to duke it out for the ultimate title. Ultimately, experience won over youthful exuberance.
It was an emotional race, however. Two of Ekstrom's three previous victories were won against Mick's famous father, Michael Schumacher. Ekstrom beat the F1 superstar in London in 2007 and in Beijing in 2009.
To claim the victory required a cool Swedish attitude. In the first round of the finals, the Swede was 0.348 seconds faster than the German in a Polaris Pro XP. They used 320-horsepower Supercar Lites in the second round, and Ekstrom's car caught on fire. "My co-driver wanted to stop, but I wasn't that interested in doing so," said Ekstrom. He finished 1.3 seconds ahead of the younger Schumacher, making this the third time he's beaten someone with that surname.
"What a fabulous result, and this in my Swedish homeland," said Ekstrom. "I'm really proud. Mick is a very big talent, and he made it to the final of the Race of Champions. He represents the next generation of motorsport drivers, but I'll keep racing for as long as I can."
In the Team Category, Petter and Oliver Solberg won the title for the second year in a row. Team Finland and Team USA (with Travis Pastrana and Tanner Foust) fell early, leaving Team Sweden as the main rival. Mattias Ekstrom and Johan Kristoffersson lost out in the semi-finals, so the father and son Solberg team had to face Team All-Star, made up of Thierry Neuville and Felipe Drugovich.
Team All-Star lost, but what do you expect going up against FIA World Rally and World Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg and his rising WRC star son Oliver Solberg?
"It's fantastic to win the ROC Nations Cup again, particularly to win the final heat against Thierry Neuville, my WRC team-mate last year. I don't tend to beat him very much, so I'm very happy to beat him now," said Oliver Solberg.
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