Audi DTM pilot Mattias Ekstrom will make a return to the Race Of Champions at Bangkok's Rajamangala Stadium on December 14-15, it has been announced.
The Swede has won two DTM championships for Audi in 2004 and 2007 and he still competes in the German touring car series. But he has also appeared in eight WRC rallies and raced in NASCAR. This year Ekstrom has spread his wings yet further with a successful appearance in the legendary V8 Supercar race at Bathurst, even leading the field at one point. He also raced strongly in the X-Games in Munich and took second place on his European Rallycross debut in his home country.
Such a rare mix of driving skill makes Ekstrom a maestro at the Race Of Champions, where he has won the overall 'Champion of Champions' title no less than three times, all in different stadia.
In 2006 Ekstrom beat home hero Sebastien Loeb in his own rally car at the Stade de France in Paris before twice defeating F1 legend Michael Schumacher in the Grand Final – first at London's Wembley Stadium in 2007 then at Beijing's 'Bird's Nest' Olympic Stadium in 2009. If he can repeat the feat in Bangkok he will equal Didier Auriol's all-time record of four ROC triumphs.
Ekstrom has also partnered Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen to ROC Nations Cup glory for Team Scandinavia in 2005 and the duo will now be reunited in Bangkok.
“I have many happy memories from the Race Of Champions and I'm delighted to be back this year – and to be teaming up with Tom again,” he said. “It's always a pleasure to race against the world's best drivers and I've had some strong results down the years. What helps me is that I've been lucky to race many good touring cars, sportscars and rally cars but everyone knows it is a unique event. You have two minutes to show what you can do – and if you do it spotlessly you go further. I once won a race by a thousandth of a second: with margins like that you also need luck.”
Race organiser Fredrik Johnsson added: “Mattias is one of the most successful drivers in the history of the Race Of Champions. So it is great for us to have him back in the field – and he will again start as one of the favourites for success as he bids to equal ROC's all-time record.
"He and Tom will make up a formidable partnership in the ROC Nations Cup too and we hope to see a big crowd cheering them all on in Bangkok.”