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Mick Schumacher reaches emotional Race of Champions final as DTM star Mattias Ekstrom triumphs

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Mick Schumacher

Double DTM and FIA World Rallycross Champion Mattias Ekstrom won the Race of Champions for a record-equalling fourth time at Sweden’s Pite Havsbad over the weekend, defeating former Haas F1 racer Mick Schumacher in the Grand Final.

Ekstrom out-scored Schumacher – now acting as reserve driver for the Mercedes F1 team – by two heats to nil in Sunday’s showdown on the snow and ice of the frozen Baltic Sea, despite encountering a scare when he had to put out a cockpit fire.

READ MORE: Lucas Blakeley beats rival Jarno Opmeer to be crowned eROC Champion 2023

It marked an emotional victory for Ekstrom, who previously won two of his three titles against Mick’s father, seven-time F1 champion Michael, and means he now equals the ROC record also held by French rally legends Didier Auriol and Sebastien Loeb.

Earlier in the knockout stages (which separated racing drivers and those with rallying experience) Ekstrom came out on top against extreme sports legend Travis Pastrana, five-time World Rallycross Champion Johan Kristoffersson and World Rally star Thierry Neuville in a mixture of identical off-road cars.

Schumacher, meanwhile, booked his place in the final after winning a head-to-head with the recently-retired Sebastian Vettel – F1 also represented at the star-studded event through Mika Hakkinen, David Coulthard and Valtteri Bottas.

Hakkinen and current Alfa Romeo driver Bottas both lost in the Round of 16 stage, while Hakkinen’s former McLaren team mate, Coulthard, dropped out in the Round 1 play-offs.

READ MORE: Vettel hints he might try his hand at rallying as he considers his post-F1 plans

Before the individual competition, father-and-son duo Petter and Oliver Solberg won Saturday’s ROC Nations Cup for Team Norway, getting the better of a Team All Stars line-up featuring Aston Martin F1 development driver Felipe Drugovich and the aforementioned Neuville.

The Nations Cup featured a strong run from Team eRoc, represented by 2022 F1 Esports Series Champion Lucas Blakely and Jarno Opmeer, with the former running Vettel close again (see below) – after the pair scrapped at the 2022 event.

“It’s very special to have four wins and even more special to do it in Sweden. I won my first final at the Stade de France in Paris against Sebastien Loeb, then I had two finals with Michael Schumacher in London and Beijing, so to see Mick in the final today was very emotional for me,” said Ekstrom after taking victory.

“This is even more special than winning; Michael’s always been one of the guys I admire most in the sport, for his dedication, hard work and talent. I only got to know Michael at the Race Of Champions. We had many battles and I have only great memories with Michael from this event.

READ MORE: ‘He deserves a chance’ – Wolff says Mercedes role can help Schumacher get back into an F1 race seat

“Michael was always humble with me and I can see Mick is also very humble. Mick is such a huge talent and his time is ahead of him, so I look forward to more battles in the future. I know it won’t take long until I get beaten, but against Mick I would have no problem with finishing second.”

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