Mexican rally driver Benito Guerra beat Formula One stars Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly to claim a surprise victory at the Race of Champions on Sunday.
Guerra, who competes at WRC2 level, took the victory on home soil in the Foro Sol stadium, which also plays host to the final sector of the Mexican Grand Prix circuit. The annual competition sees drivers from different motorsport disciplines race in head-to-head time trials around a tight and twisty circuit. The battle to become 'Champion of Champions' is split into group and knock-out stages, with a variety of different cars on offer for the head-to-head battles.
In the group stages, Guerra beat four-time world champion Vettel -- effectively knocking the Ferrari driver out of the competition -- and finished Group C in second place overall to Formula 2 driver Mick Schumacher. The son of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher looked like the favourite for victory after winning all of his group races, but was knocked out in the quarter finals by former Sauber and current Mercedes simulator driver Esteban Gutierrez.
Guerra faced newly-promoted Red Bull F1 driver Pierre Gasly in the quarter finals and again delighted his home crowd by knocking the Frenchman out of the competition. Facing Gutierrez in the semi-final, Guerra again came out on top before a best-of-three final against DTM driver and Le Mans winner Loic Duval. Guerra won the opening two races of the final, meaning he sealed overall victory with relative ease.
Previous Race of Champions winners include Vettel, David Coulthard and Romain Grosjean and it is not since 2011 that a driver without F1 experience has lifted the crown, when six-time rally champion Sebastien Ogier took the title. Guerra's victory was even more surprising given he had only competed in the competition once before in 2012, when he was knocked out in the first round.
"This feeling is completely amazing," he said. "I'm lost for words but really happy. It's incredible to compete against so many of the world's top drivers. I had to face many great drivers along the way, not least three F1 drivers in Pierre Gasly, Esteban Gutierrez and Sebastian Vettel.
"So this is an amazing moment for me, definitely one of the highlights of my career. It was a very tough competition, but I'm really happy to come out as the number one. This win is for Mexico!"
The individual competition took place one day after the Nations Cup, which was won by 'Team Nordic', made up of Danish Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen and Swedish Rallycross champion Johan Kristoffersson. The winning pairing beat Team Germany -- Vettel and Schumacher -- in the final.