Mattias Ekström will make a one-off return to the DTM at the season opener at Hockenheim next month as a final farewell to the series in which he claimed two titles and raced in for the past 17 years.
Ekström had already announced his plan to leave the DTM during the winter, with the Swede choosing to focus more on his commitment in the FIA World Rallycross Championship with his team EKS Audi Sport.
However, the Swede will now get a chance to say goodbye to the DTM and its fans with a one-off outing at the Hockenheimring in a specially-liveried Audi RS5 DTM.
“Mattias decided in winter to end his unique DTM career,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass. “He also told us that he’d very much like to say goodbye to his DTM fans in a special way. This is how the idea of a farewell weekend was born.
“I think that for him, for the DTM, for the fans and, obviously, for Audi too, it’s great that he’ll be on the grid once more in the season opener at Hockenheim. There were a few obstacles to overcome, but we made the fielding of a seventh Audi RS 5 DTM possible.
“For our squad, this will be no mean feat. At the same time, everyone in the team was immediately thrilled by the idea and spontaneously agreed to support it.”
Ekström will not be eligible for points in the races, and he will be entered as an additional seventh car for Audi, in the usual Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline stable, alongside its six full-season regulars.
“I suppose I’ll be signing more autographs this weekend than normally in a full season,” said Ekström. “But I’ll be happy to do that. It’s great that Audi is making this possible for me.
“After 17 tremendous years, it was an incredibly tough decision to no longer race in the DTM. The day it was announced was one of the most emotional ones in my career. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of goose-bump moments at Hockenheim too. I’m mega excited about it already.”
Gass does not expect that Ekström’s lack of participation in the pre-season tests will hold him back too much at the first event of the year.
“Mattias has always gotten used to a new car quickly. I’m sure that in his farewell race he’s not going to be just cruising either. He’ll live up to his motto ‘Go hard or go home’ in every respect.”