A lot has changed at EKS Audi Sport over the winter. Mattias Ekstrom is now focused solely on the FIA World Rallycross Championship, Audi Sport have increased their presence in the team and Andreas Bakkerud has joined the squad for 2018.
What hasn’t changed is very clear: Race winning pace.
Ekstrom stated this clearly on Saturday where the 2016 FIA World Rallycross Champion went fastest in Q1 with conditions making it very difficult to set a fast time and car control an absolute must.
Ekstrom took the Semi-Final win after Timmy Hansen retired whilst in a commanding lead. Contact with Petter Solberg at the first turn during the Final would mean that the former DTM driver lost the win he took on the road.
“I don’t share this opinion, but respect the decision by the stewards of the meeting. I’m particularly sorry for the team that worked hard over the winter. In the final, I had four fresh tires which made the difference,” said Ekström.
“In rain on Saturday, we were running well. In dry conditions on Sunday, we were initially struggling a little with the starts too, but in the semi-finals and the final they worked well. That kept our chance for victory alive.”
Bakkerud added to this impressive pace by keeping his EKS Audi Sport S1 Quattro Supercar inside the top six places during all four Qualifying sessions and finishing in fifth place overall.
The Norwegian driver made it all the way to the Final where he originally finished in fourth place on the road. However when his team-mate was disqualified from the win, this became third place.
“EKS Audi Sport superbly supported me this weekend, I very much enjoyed our cooperation even though I wasn’t able to fully exploit my potential yet at Barcelona,” explained Bakkerud.
“I’m happy about third place but a bitter taste remains because Mattias (Ekström) was stripped of his victory. This doesn’t change the strong performance delivered by EKS Audi Sport which brought both cars into the final.”