“One of the most fascinating experiences of my career”
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 42-year-old had a first taste of the Dakar last year 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 knows what he’s up for. Ekstrom is an eternal enthusiast and learns fast, especially alongside the masters of the discipline, Stephane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz.
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, going there and having no experience of those very long rallies. First of all, it actually felt shorter than 12 days. I enjoyed the learning process a lot because the navigation was very different with so many lines to follow. Driving itself of course took a lot of adapting because I was tempted to go a bit faster then you should. It’s an endurance race and I was pushing a bit too hard.
The next Dakar will for sure be a great adventure. Rally-raid is a new chapter for Audi as well as for me. Carlos and Stephane are the two most experienced guys and for sure I have a lot to learn from them. Even if I’m 43, I feel like a junior compared to Carlos and Stephane. Also Audi’s new drive train will be very exciting. With the e-drive, power and torque are instantly available at the slightest touch of the accelerator pedal. Another advantage, especially when driving in the dunes, is the single-speed transmission, which saves constant up and down shifts. I can’t wait to get things started. The Dakar will certainly be one of the most fascinating experiences of my career. I don’t think that I’ll ever stop. As long as I have the fitness necessary to drive, together with my mental prerequisites for it also still being there and my eyes still working, I’ll will continue trying to enjoy racing. Because, I love it and am also a bit addicted to it!”
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 : Ultimate Prototype
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Mattias Ekström: “Emil did fantastic navigation”
Ekström, with his first stage win on his first participation in the Dakar, makes it victory number 2 for Audi after the success of Carlos Sainz.
“We had a very good beginning, but then in the dunes I felt I was very careful and even too slow. I didn’t have any good rhythm at all. After the regrouping, I felt a lot more confident and...
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