Coming into the finale of the 2017 DTM Series, Mattias Ekström was leading the championship, although the Swede did not come out on top many were left wondering if he will announce his decision to retire.
Ekström missed out on the title by just three points to Rene Rast, for what could have been his third title in the DTM.
Speaking to motorsport-total.com Rally legend Walter Röhrl hopes the Hockenheim finale was not the final time DTM fans saw “Eki” in his Audi machinery.
“I think Mattias is not just off the stage, he’s just too good to stop now – he would be a lost talent, he would have to intervene again.”
The 70-year-old would understand Ekström’s predicament as he too is yet to hang his helmet up officially.
“It’s still difficult for me today, I can still drive relatively fast today, so I’m still working professionally for Porsche and I’m scared I’ll get lost if I stop completely, I’m not ready to accept the fact that it is over.
“At some point, Mattias will also say, ‘Now I feel like it does not give me that much anymore. Driving is still nice, but the circumstances and the whole politics that is being done spoils it and I quit’. But I do not believe that for people like me or Mattias, the passion of driving can ever be lost.”
Ekström also has firm racing interests outside of the DTM, as owner of the FIA World Rallycross team EKS which he has just claimed second in the Drivers’ Championship at the wheel of. Team EKS placed third in the Teams’ Championship.
“I already have a few things that I do with passion, I have a team of my own and there are a few things that are coming in,” said Ekström. “I’m passionate about producing content and trying to pass on to the fans how I am feeling behind the steering wheel.”
Having raced in the DTM since 2001, the Swede does not want to go quietly and wants to leave the German touring car series in style.
“Assuming I was a fan of mine, I would demand that you stop in style, just stop there, I would not do that, and I have too much respect for all those I have autographed and for me kept our fingers crossed.
“A nice career should also end in style, that I’m sitting at home, say nothing and suddenly no longer on the nominal list, you will not experience.”
Three weeks on from the finale of the 2017 DTM campaign and there have been no indication from Ekström that his time is up, with a contract in place to take to track for Audi once again in 2018 and aim for the elusive third title a feat only achieved by Bernd Schneider in the modern DTM era.