Mattias Ekström disappointed in disqualification which cost him maiden ETCR win

CUPRA’s Mattias Ekström was disappointed that a disqualification on his time trial ‘qualifying’ lap on Sunday cost him the chance to fight for victory in the maiden PURE ETCR event at Vallelunga on Sunday.

Ekström, drawn into Pool B on Friday evening, won each of his battles on Saturday to end the first day of track action undefeated in his all-electric CUPRA.

On Sunday morning, the Swede was again fastest in his Pool in the one-lap time trial which decided the order for the SuperFinal later in the day, but he later had his lap disallowed after a Parc Fermé rules breach.

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Ekström had been set to go out first, but came into the pits and instead went onto track last in the time trial, during which time his team worked on his car and breached the Parc Fermé rules.

Nevertheless, from the back of the six-car field in his SuperFinal, Ekström charged up to second in the seven-lap sprint, including a sensational double pass on the Hyundai of John Filippi and the Alfa Romeo of Luca Filipp in a two-corner sequence on lap five.

Finishing second, Ekström just missed out on being able to fight for the win as he ran out of time to catch and pass Jean-Karl Vernay’s Hyundai in the race.

“I think it was fair to say that after the lap in Battle 3, hoping to be on pole [in the time trial], then being disqualified after a protest from the competition was a bit disappointing for sure,” said Ekström.

“I was fighting for everything I could in the race. It was very difficult, because the guys in front also did a smart race, placed the car very smart and used the power up in the places where it wasn’t so easy to pass them.

“Then I had one chance and I think I did a move that worked out, but in that move I also lost a bit too much time to try and catch up to Jean-Karl.”

Ekström leaves Italy in third in the drivers’ standings with 69 points, eight behind team-mate Mikel Azcona, with whom he shares the #96 car.

“It was a good final if you consider where I started, but we were definitely looking to try and win the race.

“I have to say a big compliment to Mikel and also to Jean-Karl; they have been doing a good weekend as well. It’s very close and you need to get all the battles and the big finals right to be the king of the weekend.

“This one wasn’t meant to be for me, but overall, I would say that CUPRA can be proud that we have a very competitive car, and it looks like this weekend we were sorted.

“We have to continue to work hard, stay humble and go to Aragón and try again.”

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