Event>>2009 Race Of Champions – Review

The 2009 edition of The Race of Champions has been run…………..the winner, as we all know, was the Audi DTM star, Mattias Ekstrom who shaded out Michael Schumacher in the final.

But how had this come about? Both men had fought their way through from the groups to emerge unbeaten before facing each other.

So while the Swede celebrates let's wind the clock back and see how the cards were dealt.

There were four groups, each with four drivers, who would race each other over two full laps of the 1074 metre track, top two in each group to go through to the quarter finals, then on to the semis and the grand final.

Group A had Tom Kristensen, Jenson Button, Tanner Foust and Guerlain Checherit. So the first race was new F1 Champion, Button, against Le Mans legend, Kristensen but the single seater ace got the result.

Button managed to repeat his win against a fired up Tanner Foust, still pumped by being the only driver to get the best of Michael Schumacher in the competition. It was perhaps the closest contest of the whole event with the Briton scrambling home by a 0.05 second margin. 

With Chicherit not really featuring the fight for the place in the next round was between TK and Tanner but when things very finely balanced on lap two, Foust tried a little too hard and spun out of the race and the event. So Jenson and Tom go on.

Group B featured Mattias Ekstrom, Andy Priaulx, Travis Pastrana and Mick Doohan. Right out of the box Ekstrom looked as if he was intent on adding to his previous success in the competition, shading the Touring Car Champ, Priaulx in their opening contest.

Like Button in Group A, the Dane carried all before him leaving Priaulx and Pastrana to scrap for second. Doohan was shown the Red Card after bending a KTM X-Bow and then was sent to the Naughty Step.

The final race in the group was appropriately between Travis and Andy, Travis kept in touch till he beached the KTM, game over.

Ekstrom and Priaulx went onto the quarter finals, Travis got to go back to hospitality and the warm.

Group C had Sebastian Vettel, Mikko Hirvonen, Chad Reed and Giniel de Villiers lined up. Vettel on a roll after the Nations Cup win, plus the small matter of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, steamrollered the rest.

Perhaps the biggest mismatch of the night was to stick Aussie Motorcross Champion, Chad Reed, in a WRC Ford Focus, against, yes you guessed it, Mikko Hirvonen.

No surprise then to see the Finnish Rally star join Vettel in the next round.

The final group of drivers was potentially the hardest one from which to qualify. Michael Schumacher, David Coulthard, Marcus Gronholm and Yvan Muller were the combatants.

Schumi and DC were up first and it was anyone's game until the Scot ran wide on the way to the flag, One-Nil.

Michael made short order of the others so it was Muller and Coulthard squabbling over the final place to go forward, advantage DC, good night Yvan.

One blast from the past was Michele Mouton ina Quattro………kept the waiting crowds happy.

The draw for the quarter finals threw up some interesting conflicts Team GB drivers were up first with Button taking advantage of Priaulx's fumble at the start. Jenson goes through.

Then it was the Team Scandanavia duo out on track. For good measure they are also DTM Audi team mates. Ekstrom continued his fine form to beat the Dane.

It was all Red Bull in QF3, Vettel getting the better of DC. QF4 saw Schumacher beat Hirvonen.

The semi finals would be Button versus Ekstrom and Schumacher versus Vettel.

The Swede had been in scintillating form all night and had the upper hand against the new World Champion, taking a place in the final.

The contest between the two generations of Germans resolved itself in favour of Schumacher when Vettel clouted the wall on the second lap. As he said somewhat ruefully afterwards "The Old Guy did it again."

So we had the two unbeaten drivers in the final. Could Mattias Ekstrom beat Michael Schumacher?

Yes, was the answer, try as he might Schumacher just could not match the speed and commitment of the Swede who took both of the races.

After the event Ekstrom put his continuing success at The Race of Champions down to his upbringing: “I was born in the countryside in Sweden and drove lots of different cars as a boy, plus I've also had the pleasure of racing a lot of good touring cars, sportscars and rally cars. That is what makes the difference for me." 

2009's title can now be added the 2006 and 2007 titles that Ekstrom has in the Trophy Cabinet. 

The event was judged a success by the organisers and the crowd of 83,000 who attended over the three days.

John Brooks

Photos copyright and courtesy of The Race of Champions.



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all the races where a spectacle. The track didn't favour any car. Theres nothing motorsport now until the andros trophy starts.Loved the solution f 'astra'.


of all the US talent, they send Pastrana and Foust? =(


what cars are these?


what cars are these?


enough of the Pastrana / Foust hate already.. has been discussed many times in previous writeups; both drivers are extremely talented in their own feild and adapted well to the different racing disciplines. As said in the article, Foust was the only other driver to beat Schumacher, which says somethign. Both held their own and definitely not the worse drivers there - exceeded my expectations, especially considering who they were up against.


lol at two motorbike riders representing Australia.


yes, why does australia send two motorbike riders. of all the people we could have to represent us.


Hirvonen and Gronholm should be ashamed of themselves. Whit their s*** performance the superior Finnish drivings skills have been put to shame. It is a sad day when we lose to a Swedish driver. Losing in Hockey i can take..but this is too much.