Ekstrom earns Champion of Champions title

The Race of Champions and the Champion of Champions title in particular is the title all the drivers want to win. The charity event is by invitation only and it attracts the top names in motorsport. All the drivers in the event do not get paid a fee for their inclusion.

Final heat 3: Race of Champions winner Mattias Ekstr?m celebrates.
Photo by Gareth Fair.

This year the drivers entered for the event are Andy Priaulx, Jenson Button, David Coulthard, Alistair McRae, Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel, Jimmie Johnson, Travis Pastrana, Sebastian Bourdais, Yvan Muller, Tom Kristensen, Mattias Ekstrom, Heikki Kovalainen, Marcus Gronholm as well as Henning and Petter Solberg.

Last year's winner Ekstrom came down to the final with Michael Schumacher as his opponent. "For me, Michael Schumacher is one of the world's greatest racers. To beat him in the same equipment is an incredible experience I won't forget for a long time," said the elated Swede after notching his back-to-back ROC title.

2007 F1 sensation Lewis Hamilton was unable to attend the event due to sponsorship obligations. His father Anthony was at the event like many other well-known spectators.

After the Nations Cup most of the estimated 55000 crowd were still braving the cold winter conditions in the open air stadium waiting for the Champion of Champions event to start. The first two opponents entered the flood lit arena for the first round where they would fight to go on to the next round.

The first pairing were Michael Schumacher and Henning Solberg. The car they drove up to the start line in for this race was the SolutionF car, this is a purpose built racing car from France with three and a half litre Nissan engine in the back. Schumacher was the pre race favorite to win and he started well beating the older of the Solberg brothers at this event by over two seconds, recording a quick time of 1:50.1346 on the 1km circuit.

The pairing of Jenson Button and Alistair McRae would race in the next round. The cars switched to the ROC buggy, a single seater open wheel car with 1.1 litre Honda power. Jenson had a scrappy opening section belting the concrete carrier, with the rear wheel. the car seemed to be fine and he took the win. McRae raced hard to reel him in with some big sideways moments in the corners.

Jensen Button and Alister McRae.
Photo by Gareth Fair.

Back to the SolutionF cars for the next race, Sebastian Bourdais and Jimmie Johnson pulled up to the start line. The pair were soon off, Bourdais, who was come off the track in his first race in the Nations Cup, did not have a repeat here. The race was close but on the last corner Jimmie Johnson took a bit too much kerb and bounced the inside wheels into the air. This was enough to spoil his exit from the corner and Bourdais took the win.

Coulthard and Petter Solberg were up next and back in the ROC Buggy. The race started well for both but Solberg and an uncharacteristic error and spun the car. Solberg recovered but had lost too much to get back into the race. Coulthard with the pressure off produced some nice power slides for the crowds.

Kovalainen and Vettel had good battles in the Nations cup, for this round the SolutionF cars were used. Vettel had come away best in the previous encounters. This time Kovalainen seemed to bog down at the start, then Vettel had a moment and almost lost the front end. The race was very close all the way to the end, Kovalainen took the honors this time, knocking out the German Nations cup winner.

Despite the 35 mile an hour speed limit on Guernsey, It still managed to produce a very successful racing driver and he is three times world touring car champion Andy Priaulx. Fellow WTC driver Yvan Muller narrowly missed out on the title to Priaulx so was keen to take the win as the pair found themselves in the first round shoot out. These pair were both really going for it, Priaulx took the win convincingly and with it the place in the next round.

Ekstrom and Kristensen know each other well, they both drive in the Audi DTM team The qualifying between round was another close race, with Ekstrom taking the qualifying place.

In the last of the quarter final rounds Gronholm and Pastrana race the ROC buggy At half way Pastrana was up and he took the win in style.

Quarter final 1: Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher.
Photo by Gareth Fair.

Quarter finals and it was Button and Schumacher again. They met in the Nations cup and that time Schumacher won, this time Schumacher won again. He maybe retired man now but he has lost none of his speed.

Bourdais and Coulthard had the next quarter final round. Interestingly seven out of the nine previous winners at this point had started from the inside lane of the track. It shouldn't make a difference as they cross over and use both inside and outside. However Bourdais picked up the win in this round so that's eight out of ten.

Kovalainen and Priaulx take the big Astons out for the first time in this part of competition. Kovalainen had already made a mess of one Aston in the practice session in the morning. He was behind in the last corner and desperately tried to get more power down to get to the line. The back stepped out and he over corrected it crossing the finish line sideways before plowing into the centre barrier. The car drove off the track needed a bit of attention.

The next quarter final race Ekstrom and Pastrana race it out. The last years champion Ekstrom won by around 3 seconds

The first semi final Schumacher and Bourdais drive the ROC cars. Having taken the nations cup already, Schumacher beats Bourdais to put himself into the final for The Champion of champion titles.

Semi final 2: Andy Priaulx damaged Solution F car.
Photo by Gareth Fair.

The final place in the final was to be decided by a semi final race between Priaulx and Last years winner Ekstrom. The home crowd were cheering on Priaulx but it wasn't enough. He was behind and pushing hard and spun the SolutionF car in the second to last corner.

The final would include three races, the first was in a solutionF car, Ekstrom got a good start and didn't look back He took the first win. Schumacher had to then win the next race, which will be in the ROC buggy. This time it was Schumacher that was in control, his smooth drifting style worked well in the ROC car and he took the win.

The next car was understood to be the Fiat Rally car, this was the car that gave Schumacher trouble in the Nations cup and it was switched to the SolutionF car. The competitive Schumacher then insisted that they swapped to use different actual SolutionF cars this time. He had lost with the red car last time and wanted the yellow one. Ekstrom agreed and the staff changed the flags and stickers over. It looked a bit like Schumacher playing mind games.

Ekstrom was clearly unaffected and had the advantage at the half way point, Schumacher was way behind by the end and spun the car just before the finish line.

Please see also: Vettel, Schumacher hand Nations Cup to Germany