Two-time Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) champion Mattias Ekström is eager to get back out on track at the Hockenheimring in May, especially as the Team Abt Sportsline driver was the man in top form at the end of last year’s calendar.
The 36-year-old Swede, who also runs his own World RX team, EKS, fielding two Audi S1 RX quattros, was the man with the momentum heading into the long DTM winter break. Ekström used timing and strategy to his advantage, picking up wins at Zandvoort and the Hockenheim series finale back in October.
With the recent news that the ITR and World RX promoters IMG have signed a multi-year deal to have both series compete at the famed Hockenheimring, 2014 title runner-up Ekström will have his hands full, but is looking forward to the two series competing on the same weekend. “It’s fantastic that this is coming off. The ITR and the IMG have been working on this for a long time behind the scenes. As a rallycross team boss, I’m delighted about the RX supercars being allowed to race in front of such a great crowd at the Hockenheim Motodrom.”
He also explained that the addition of this exciting series will make the DTM season opener more “interesting as a whole,” as well as the fact that it adds to all the racing that the fans will get to see over the weekend, which will include the FIA Formula 3 European Championship and the debut of the Audi Sport TT Cup. “It’s a win-win situation for both – the DTM and the World RX. But the fans are the true winners.”
The fact that the fast-paced nature of World RX will add that little bit more to the activities that take place during the DTM race weekend, shows that Ekström feels that the fans that will attend the season opener will see some good race cars too, as well as being part of something special.
“It’ll be a unique opportunity to experience all this on a single weekend not to be missed by any fan. I’m sure that the best tickets for the DTM festival will quickly be sold.”
Like a lot of drivers that have stated about the new race weekend format that the DTM will have for the first time since 2000, the Audi Sport driver is now looking ahead to the forthcoming official ITR tests, which will start in Portugal at the beginning of March: “The upcoming track tests are sending a clear signal that we’ll be starting again soon, so that’s good. The new DTM season with its new format and the additional races promises plenty of suspense.”
Ekström’s Audi RS5 DTM will again sport the Red Bull colours for the thirteen season in succession, will also see the Swede race with the number 5, which was his race number during his first title back in 2004. This could also prove to be a good omen for him.
However, he has stayed rather tight-lipped as to whether he will again race in World RX alongside his commitments in the DTM, as well as the current situation regards EKSRX. He took his first World RX win in the Audi S1 on home soil in Höljes, beating the likes of Petter Solberg, who took the title last year.
“The plans for my private team, EKS, have not been completed yet,” said Ekström. “We’re still looking for partners to support us. Our aim is to compete in the full World Championship. But nothing’s locked in concrete yet. Obviously, I’m hoping for EKS to be able to race in the DTM festival at Hockenheim.”