Audi, Q Motorsport, Red Bull
“A lot more than only driving”
Put Mattias Ekstrom in a car whatever the terrain, and there’s a pretty good chance that he’ll be competitive. Born in Sweden, the passion for motorsports came rapidly on all sorts of vehicles in the vast open spaces of his native land. Glory came later. Two DTM titles, a World Rallycross championship, 3-time winner of the Race of Champions and more recently the first ever Pure ETCR series champion. The choice of having Ekstrom in the Dakar project was a natural one. He is indeed an Audi “child” having done all his career with the legendary German brand. But before sitting behind the wheel of the RS Q e-tron, the 43-year-old had a first taste of the Dakar in 2021 when he took part in the rally in a Yamaha T3. Although tough, it would be an eye-opening experience. Despite failing to finish, he at least knew what he was up for. Ekstrom, the eternal enthusiast made the historic debut of his team even sweeter by capturing stage 8 just five days after his team mate Carlos Sainz opened the way. The Swede then went on to finish best placed of the Audi drivers by making it just into the Top ten of his second Dakar (9th). In a redesigned and lighter RS Q e-Tron, Ekstrom will again make the best of the tips of his prestigious team mates Sainz and Peterhansel and can hope to surprise by already going for overall victory with his usual partner Emil Bergkvist.
S.P. : “I grew up in Sweden where you have so much space and many opportunities to drive a car if you like it. We have much more land. On top of this I also had the garage of my father. If it’s a rally car, a rallycross car, a buggy, a go kart, a quad, a jetski or actually anything I try to have a lot of fun. During my circuit racing career, I’ve always tried to do different projects. I’ve done some WRC rallies. I did Nascar. I tried an LMP car at Le Mans and also a lot of rallycross in the World Championship. One of my biggest and nicest trophy’s is the race of champions I won three times as an individual, against Michael Schumacher twice and once against Sebastien Loeb.
My first Dakar in the Yamaha SSV was an adventure in many ways. It was great to learn the road book, to learn the nature, to learn the type of the rally, I think it’s the base. Last year I also started to enjoy that this sport is a lot more than only driving. You have to use your brain. Someday you'll be pushing a lot on a very simple road. So the mixture of it all, I think is was what makes this sport so unique. And once I start to understand, I also see the challenge. And you also have to be very.
The first part of the rally to come looks to be in the areas where I have some experience, but when it comes down into an Empty Quarter and there's only sand, that's a new region for me. So I think that will be very exciting. Also with the marathon day there. I think we have the car, the team, and for sure with Stephane and Carlos also the experienced drivers to win. If I can have a couple of good days and stay out of trouble maybe some days we can also show that we are fast. But to look at the overall picture for Audi, I think definitely we are much more ready this year compared to the first time. And in the last testing we did, they asked me, 'What are your wishes?' I said I have no more wishes left, it's to go home and do my own preparation and just wait for the Dakar to start.”
TEAM AUDI SPORT
AUDI RS Q E-TRON
TEAM AUDI SPORT
- Mark AUDI
- Model RS Q E-TRON
- Performance tuner Audi Sport
- Assistance Audi Sport
- Class T1.U: "Ultimate" Prototype Cross-Country Cars
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