Mattias Ekström is the Champion of Champions. The final of the prestigious “Race of Champions” in the Stade de France in St. Denis, a Paris suburb, saw the 2004 DTM champion beating three times’ world rally champion Sébastien Loeb with two straight wins in as many heats. “A great success, especially as I have beaten the best rally driver of all times with his own car and in his own country”, the Audi works-driver beamed at the finish. His opponent showed great respect for the Swede’s performance: “Mattias already has shown on several occasions that he is quick. Here, he has proven it again.”
With Ekström and Loeb, two real all-rounders made it into the final the annual invitation race that was founded in 1988 by former Audi works-driver Michèle Mouton. Ekström is not only successful in the DTM, but he has also scored considerable results in rallying, while Loeb is not only a record winner in rallying with 28 victories in world championship rallies to his tally, but has also been competing already twice in the Le Mans 24 Hours. In the “Race of Champions” Mattias Ekström made it into the final beating DTM champion Bernd Schneider, F1 new entry Heikki Kovalainen and three times’ Champ Car title holder Sébastian Bourdais.
With his victory, Ekström is only the second circuit racer after Heikki Kovalainen two years ago to win the Race of Champions. In all other 17 previous editions, victory always went to rally drivers. Ekström is also the first-ever driver from the ranks of the DTM to win the “Race of Champions” outright. He was supported by fellow-Audi driver Pierre Kaffer. The German, too, was impressed by the event and the performance of his colleague: “Now, I know what it is like to sit on the grandstand and keeping your fingers crossed for somebody. Eki really has been driving well.”
Last year’s winners, Team Scandinavia with the two Audi drivers Tom Kristensen and Mattias Ekström, were also out early in the Nations’ Cup. The Danish/Swedish duo was beaten by Finland. In the individual competition, Kristensen was beaten by Heikki Kovalainen in the first round.