Mattias Ekström is set for another season of competing on two top-line championships as an Audi Sport driver as he takes on his defence of the FIA World Rallycross Championship and looks to regain the DTM title that he won in 2004 and 2007.
The 38-year-old will benefit from an increased involvement from Audi Sport in World RX this year as he fronts a three car effort with his EKS RX team, the 560hp Audi S1 EKS RX has undergone extensive testing recently at Mettet, before Ekström headed to Vallenlunga to test the new RS 5 DTM car.
“Preparing for the season is always especially stressful for me because of the demands it makes on me as both a driver and team boss,” says Ekström. “This is the time that determines how the whole year of racing will go. Only those doing their homework properly will win in the end.”
Over the past 16 years Ekström has competed a total of 177 DTM races for Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline and has taken 22 victories and two titles in that time.
In 2014 he took on the role of team manager alongside driving duties, and despite growing up around Rallycross he never imagined he would end up in the sport, let alone as World Champion.
“When I was a young boy my father was competing in rallycross, but it took me a long time to develop any enthusiasm for this sport. Rallycross was always too dirty for me,” said Ekström.
In 2013 Ekström had his first taste of driving in rallycross when he took part in X Games Munich where he finished fifth and fourth in the two finals, collecting a heat win along the way. One week later he took part in the European Rallycross Championship at Höljes, Sweden, this was a moment of revelation, ”I finished second and decided to return and win.”
“What my team and I built within that period of time is incredible,” says Ekström. “I personally selected all the team members, that was very important for me. All of them are experts in their field and friends as well. They think the way I do and know how to jointly celebrate success: with passion, commitment and, above all, fun.”
This year sees added support from Audi in the EKS project and Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass is more than happy to be on board, “We realize that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for EKS to stand its ground against the Ford, Peugeot and Volkswagen factory teams and the other competitors, so we decided to intensify our commitment in the World Rallycross Championship,” said Gass.