Mattias Ekström on the rallycross throne after only three years
The next step is to follow in 2017 with factory support from Audi
Ekström battles for the titles in the DTM and World RX
Mattias Ekström will again be competing in a dual role in 2017. Following remarkable years in the DTM and two titles with Audi, the Swede is determined to claim the top spot now in the new, more than 500-HP Audi RS 5 DTM too. And as the reigning World Rallycross Champion he has only one aim in the up-and-coming racing series as well: to win the title again this year. The season will open at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya not far from the Spanish metropolis, on April 1 and 2. Starting this year, Ekström can also rely on support from Audi’s motorsport department.
Ekström is more than just a race driver. Since 2014, he has been a team boss as well, a dual role he could not imagine for a long time, especially in rallycross. “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,” relates Ekström. Running as a guest entrant in the 2013 European Rallycross Championship at Höljes, Sweden, changed his opinion. ”I finished second and decided to return and win.” Together with friends, partners and longstanding companions he began to put his plan into action.
What followed was a long road, packed with passion and sacrifice, toward a success story that nearly reads like a fairy tale. On June 14, 2014, Ekström makes his racing debut in a World RX round in the Audi S1 EKS RX quattro. And only three weeks later, in his home round at Höljes, he actually mounts the very top of the winners’ rostrum. Finally, 857 days following his premiere, he puts on the World Champion’s crown early. “What my team and I built within that period of time is incredible,” says Ekström. By now, his outfit employs about 25 people – including mechanics, race engineers, a media team and chef Jonas Landmark, who has even served the Swedish King before. “I personally selected all the team members,” says team boss Ekström. “That’s 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.”
Thanks to factory support from AUDI AG, the EKS project continues this year. “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,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass. In the 2017 season, EKS will be on the grid with three Audi S1 EKS RX quattro cars for the first time. “Together with Audi Sport we worked hard to field three cars. I’m very happy that we made this happen,” says Ekström who, together with the Finn Toomas Heikkinen and new signing Reinis Nitišs from Latvia, forms the driver trio. But an additional car means more work for Ekström as well – a challenge he tackles with a spring in his step.