Audi DTM ace Mattias Ekström has again proven his exceptional talent by adding a third Race of Champions crown to his impressive career resumé in the annual end-of-season cross-championship spectacular, seeing off no less than newly-crowned F1 World Champion Jenson Button and record-breaking grand prix legend Michael Schumacher in Beijing.
Already a double champion in the popular and hotly-fought pan-European DTM touring car series – in 2004 and 2007 – Ekström took on and defeated all comers around the purpose-built, 1.074km track in the celebrated Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium in the Chinese capital, the first time the city had hosted the Race of Champions.
The clear winner of the qualifying rounds, during the subsequent head-to-head races in identical cars the Swede first beat his team-mate Tom Kristensen and subsequently Brawn GP star Button. In the finale he did not give Schumacher even the slightest chance, and with a brace of victories secured the prestigious title for a third time, having previously triumphed at the Stade de France in Paris in 2006 and at Wembley Stadium in London a year later.
“This is a very special day for me,” beamed the 31-year-old afterwards. “I was not particularly fortunate this year in the DTM, [so] to end the season with a victory against Michael Schumacher is fantastic.”
“Mattias has proven in the past that he is one of the world's best, both on the circuit and in rallying,” underlined Head of Audi Motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “This is a very rare combination in motorsport. Walter Röhrl was such an exceptional driver and Sébastien Loeb is one of them too.
“We know Mattias' value to Audi, and are happy that he is with us. After the 2009 DTM season that was disappointing for him and in which he had an incredible amount of misfortune, this marks an end on a high note and everyone at Audi extends their cordial congratulations to him.”
To watch highlights from the 2009 Race of Champions in Beijing, click here