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Race of Champions 2023: Ekström prevents Schumi's victory

The stars of the rally scene once again dominated the Race of Champions on snow and ice this year. The biggest trophy went to Mattias Ekström in Pite Havsbad, Sweden. The German Formula 1 aces also set highlights.

For Sebastian Vettel and Mick Schumacher, the trip to the Arctic Circle was worth it. In the Nations Cup, the German duo had to go through the preliminary round, but solved the task against the British team, consisting of W-Series champion Jamie Chadwick and David Coulthard, but confidently.

In the quarterfinals, the two buddies prevailed relatively easily against the eSports duo Opmeer/Blakeley. Only in the semifinals was it over. The duel against the all-stars team, consisting of rally ace Thierry Neuville and Formula 2 champion Felipe Drugovich, was lost by one to three. A false start by Vettel in the run against Drugovich, which resulted in a time penalty of five seconds, made the preliminary decision.

Team Norway was waiting for the Brazilian-Belgian duo in the final. After an easy win against France (Loeb/Tambay), the father-son combination Petter and Oliver Solberg narrowly prevailed against Sweden in a hard-fought semi-final. Petter narrowly lost both of his duels against Johan Kristoffersson and Mattias Ekström. Thanks to two wins by son Oliver, the defending champions made it to the final.

Solberg victory in the Nations Cup

Father Petter suffered his next defeat here against Neuville. But the second "Allstar" Drugovich had nothing to oppose the Solbergs. In the decisive duel, Oliver Solberg finally brought Neuville the first defeat of the day. "Oliver won this thing for us single-handedly today. I guess I have to pay him dinner," grinned the proud dad.

A day later, the Solbergs had nothing to celebrate in the individual competition. After beating Father Petter in the first round, Solberg Jr. and Neuville met again in the quarterfinals. In the FC1-X electric rallycross model with more than 1000 hp, Solberg lost control when approaching the bridge and hit the concrete barrier.

For Neuville, the fun was over a lap later. The RoC newcomer narrowly lost twice in the semifinals to veteran Mattias Ekström, who had previously eliminated his compatriot Kristoffersson in two exciting duels.

German duel in the semifinals

In the lower part of the tournament tree, where the circuit drivers were scheduled, the German drivers successfully worked their way through the field. Mick Schumacher prevailed against Felix Rosenqvist, Adrien Tambay and Felipe Drugovich. Buddy Vettel came through his duels against Jamie Chadwick and Tom Kristensen undefeated. And so the semifinals became a German-German affair. Here Schumi made short work of two wins.

In the final, the youngster put up a tough fight against the more experienced Ekström, but had to admit defeat twice. In the final run, however, things got tricky for the local hero in the 330 hp rally Fiesta – in the truest sense of the word. After only half a lap, a small fire broke out in the center console. While Ekström hit the flames with his right glove, he circled the car around the course with his left.

"My co-driver wanted me to park the car. But of course that was out of the question," grinned the Audi works driver after the fourth RoC success. "It was special to race against Mick because I also knew his father well. He's very talented. The new generation is coming to beat us. I had to give everything so that it wasn't that far today."


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