ROC: Schuey gifted early win

Michael Schumacher's hopes of victory in the Race of Champions nearly fell at the first hurdle on Saturday evening when he was pipped by Sauber's Felipe Massa in the first round of the event in Paris - but he was gifted the win after his rival got a penalty for hitting the wall

ROC: Schuey gifted early win

The pair, who were pitted head-to-head in the racing drivers section, fought furiously over the tight course laid out in the Stade de France in France - but it was Massa who did a slightly better job in the buggies to pip Schumacher by 0.0537 seconds.

However, Massa was handed a 10-second penalty for brushing the wall and was robbed of what would have been a very famous victory.

Massa's mistake means Schumacher will face Champ Car title winner Sebastien Bourdais in the racing drivers' semi-final. Bourdais cruised to an easy victory in his heat after IRL driver Kenny Brack hit the wall on the opening lap.

The other racing drivers semi-final will be between former grand prix driver Jean Alesi, who headed off Casey Mears by half a second, and Heikki Kovalainen who sent David Coulthard crashing out early from the quarter finals.

In the rally drivers section, Colin McRae beat DTM champion Mattias Ekstrom across the line by just 0.0048 seconds - but was handed a 10-second penalty after clouting the barriers at the first corner.

That left Ekstrom facing the prospect of a head-to-head against former world rally champion Marcus Gronholm, who had an easy quarter final victory after rival Stephane Sarrazin stalled at the start.

German Armin Schwarz became the fans' favourite with a spectacular victory in his quarter final against Jimmie Johnson, who spun. He will face world rally champion Sebastien Loeb, who beat Tony Kanaan.

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