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 Sébastien Loeb in his own rally car at the Stade de France in Paris before twice defeating Formula 1 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.
Ekstrom said: “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. 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 organizer Fredrik Johnsson said: “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 favorites 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."
Held every year since 1988, the Race Of Champions brings together the world’s greatest drivers from motor sport’s main disciplines – including Formula 1, World Rally, Le Mans, MotoGP, Nascar, IndyCar, Touring Cars and the X-Games – and sets them free to battle head-to-head in identical machinery.
ROC 2013 will take place on a specially constructed tarmac track with two parallel lanes winding their way round Bangkok’s Rajamangala Stadium. Drivers pair up for the ROC Nations Cup, this year scheduled for Saturday 14 December, ahead of the individual Race Of Champions on Sunday 15 December.
ROC features stars from all over the world: along with Schumacher and Kristensen, four-time V8 Supercar champion Jamie Whincup and 2013 World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier have already signed up and the rest of the field will be announced in the run-up to December’s event.
Tickets are now available from www.raceofchampions.com where you can also find further information, media accreditation (closing date November 15) and access to high-resolution imagery. Sign up for all the latest updates at www.raceofchampions.com, Race Of Champions on Facebook or @raceofchampions and the hashtag #BangROC on Twitter.
Drivers already announced for the 2013 Race Of Champions:
- Michael SCHUMACHER, seven-time Formula 1 World Champion
- Tom KRISTENSEN, nine-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner, World Endurance Champion 2013
- Sebastien OGIER, World Rally Champion 2013
- Jamie WHINCUP, V8 Supercar Champion 2012, 2011, 2009, 2008
- Narain KARTHIKEYAN, Formula 1 driver and ROC Asia Champion 2012
- Karun CHANDHOK, Formula 1 driver and ROC Asia Champion 2012
- David COULTHARD, 13-time Formula 1 grand prix winner
- Susie WOLFF, development driver for the Williams F1 team
- Mattias Ekstrom, DTM ace and triple ROC Champion of Champions