Ekstrom quits DTM to focus on World Rallycross

Tuesday 30th January, 2018 - 3:09pm


Mattias Ekstrom

Two-time DTM champion Mattias Ekstrom has decided to leave the German series and focus on his World Rallycross Championship drive this year.

Ekstrom has spent the past five years competing in both championships, winning the World RX title in his own EKS team in 2016.

The Swede had also been crowned DTM champion in 2004 and 2007 with Audi.

The future of his rallycross program, which attracted full Audi works backing last year, had been uncertain over the winter, as he put his existing Audi S1 Supercars up for sale and team-mates Toomas Heikkinen and Reinis Nitiss both parted company with EKS.

However, he has now announced a decision to concentrate on rallycross.

“Pretty early last year I decided to do one championship for 2018,” Ekstrom explained.

“Then I was in the (DTM) title fight, it didn’t really play to my wishes but second is still okay, and when I left Hockenheim I said I would definitely come back. That was my spontaneous decision; I would continue to do DTM.

“Then as weeks and months continued I started to think about what I really would like to do because I know I don’t have 20 years left as a driver.

“I had a lot of discussions with family, friend and (Audi Sport boss) Dieter Gass, and out of these discussions more and more it came that I think I would like to say goodbye to DTM and do just rallycross and focus on this.

“It’s probably the most difficult decision of my professional life, because my heart has been beating for DTM for so many years.”

Ekstrom emphasised that a desire to spend more time with his family was the main factor rather than any decline in his interest in the DTM, which faces an uncertain future with Mercedes poised to depart for Formula E after this season.

“I didn’t feel for one second that I wanted to stop (racing), but I also felt that I would like to spend more time at home and with my family,” he said.

Ekstrom expects Audi to increase its backing of his rallycross effort, and said the team was preparing new cars for 2018.

“We’re preparing new cars, and I’ve never been this deeply integrated in a project in my life as I have so many roles,” he added.

Ekstrom will be replaced by current Blancpain GT Sprint champion Robin Frijns. comment policy reserves the right to remove comments that are off-topic, abusive and ban users who do not follow the comment policy. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

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