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Ekstrom defeats France's Loeb for Race of Champions

SAINT-DENIS, France -- Mattias Ekstrom of Sweden beat three-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb of France to win the Race of Champions at Stade de France on Saturday.

Loeb raced for the first time since breaking his arm in September and reached the final for the third straight year. He won last year and lost to Finland's Heikki Kovalainen in 2004.

"It's great to beat the best driver in the world," DTM racer Ekstrom said.

Ekstrom downed Citroen driver Loeb 2-0 in a best-of-three legs final after overcoming Formula One's Heikki Kovalainen and three-time Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais in earlier heats.

Loeb felt no lingering pain from his injury, but he struggled in the final.

"It feels fine, no problems," Loeb said. "I had not raced for three months, so it's nice to come back."

Ekstrom, who also competes in some rally driving -- he was fifth at February's Swedish rally -- won the first leg by a car-length after a poor start, and dominated the second by nearly 3 seconds.

The Race of Champions, a yearly event since 1988, features 16 drivers from various motor racing disciplines. It was held on a custom-built 0.7-mile figure-of-eight asphalt track with a crossover bridge.