Swedish competitor Mattias Ekstrom has chosen to fight for the FIA World RallyCross title this season, sacrificing the final round of the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters. Despite being an Audi factory driver the German manufacturer has backed his decision.
It was always set to be a looming question for the 38-year-old as he finds himself with two different events happening on the 15-16 October.
Ekstrom currently leads WRX with 204 points. Ten more than his nearest rival Petter Solberg. Having never won a RallyCross title, this will be a rare opportunity for him as he looks to diversify his career outside of Touring Cars.
Comparitively, he is not in contention for the title in DTM. He currently sits seventh on 82 points, under half of the championship leaders total. The WRX round itself will take place at the Estering, while the DTM final is at Hockenheim, 500km south.
Replacing Ekstrom in Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline will be 29-year-old German, Rene Rast. The three-time Porsche Supercup champion will return to the series having made a one-off appearance earlier this season.
“There are two hearts beating in my chest,” says Dieter Gass, Head of DTM at Audi Sport. “Obviously, it’s not easy to do without one of our best drivers in the DTM finale at Hockenheim of all events. But Mattias has the chance of winning the world championship title in rallycross in an Audi.”
Gass was also excited to have Rast in the team having been impressed by his exploits at Zandvoort, as well as his role in FIA WEC this year. “I’m very excited to see how he’s going to fare with a little more time to prepare,” he added.
Ekstrom is the most successful Audi Factory driver in history, having picked up 21 victories and 2 championships for the manufacturer in DTM since 2001. On top of that, he’s also competed in occasional WRC rounds and had a one-off stint in NASCAR.