This past Sunday, the Stade de France in Paris played host to the 2006 Race of Champions. For those unfamiliar with the concept, the ROC is an event that draws racing drivers from a variety of motorsports – including F1, NASCAR, Champ and Indy cars, rally racing, touring cars and more – to compete for one day on equal footing. The event is divided into two competitions: the individual Race of Champions and the team-effort Nations Cup. Drivers raced against each other this year in the Citroen Xsara WRC, the Porsche 911 GT3, the mid-engined Renault Megane Trophy, in the race-prepped Aston Martin V8 Vantage and in single-seat sprint cars. They race on a purpose-built 1.2-kilometer figure-eight track with a cross-over bridge.
The race results and commentary can be found after the jump.
Former DTM champion Mattias Ekstrom (shown top in the bottom red car and below celebrating victory) took home the title this year, upsetting the French crowd as he defeated local hero Sebastien Loeb, first in Loeb's own Citroen rally car – in which he won three world championships – and then absolutely spanking him in the Megane Trophy touring cars. Loeb was returning from an arm injury that had forced him to sit out several races towards the end of the WRC season, while Ekstrom arrived at the stadium feeling ill, but that didn't stop either from giving it their all.
Meanwhile the Nations' Cup was taken by the Finnish team of freshman F1 driver Heikki Kovalainen and two-time world rally champion Marcus Gronholm. Heikki made an impressively flawless run in the Nations' Cup, winning all six of his races. The Finns narrowly beat out Travis Pastrana, who was representing America solo after NASCAR champ Jimmie Johnson and then F1 driver Scott Speed both had to cancel due to injuries. That just gave Pastrana, a fixture at the X-Games, a chance to shine, beating out such greats as Colin McRae and David Coulthard. Travis only recently switched to four wheels after an impressive career in freestyle motorbike racing.
The 2006 Race of Champions and Nations' Cup was an exciting event, the last to be held in France as the competition moves to England's new Wembley Stadium for next year.