EKSTROM QUITS D TM TO FO­CUS ON RALLY CROSS

Audi’ s help means swede will gun f oran other wrx ti­tle

Motor Sport News - - Sporting Scene - By Hal Ridge

Two-time DTM cham­pion Mat­tias Ekstrom has ended his 17-year spell in the series and will fo­cus solely on his EKS team’s World Ral­ly­cross cam­paign with con­tin­ued sup­port from Audi in 2018.

Ekstrom an­nounced the news at a press con­fer­ence in Salzburg in Aus­tria on Mon­day, and con­firmed that new World RX cars are be­ing built in con­junc­tion with Audi.

“This is a big junc­tion in my ca­reer, last time I took such a de­ci­sion was at the end of 2000 when I had to de­cide to do Su­per1600 with Peu­geot or DTM with Audi,” Ekstrom told Mo­tor­sport News. “I know these [de­ci­sions] shape your life in many ways. Now I’m ready to take the con­se­quences of this new life.”

The Swede has re­it­er­ated sev­eral times that he would not con­tinue with his World RX pro­gramme with­out man­u­fac­turer sup­port. Audi Sport’s in­volve­ment is cur­rently fo­cused on the de­vel­op­ment of new cars.

“When we saw last year that we had some new com­peti­tors that raised the bar, I un­der­stood we had to build new cars,” he said. “We have been dis­cussing that for quite a while, at the same time the en­gi­neers were col­lect­ing in­for­ma­tion from the cars we had. Now it will be a stronger co-op­er­a­tion, which I’m re­ally happy for. It wouldn’t have been pos­si­ble to build a new car in this time [with­out Audi’s sup­port].”

Ekstrom is yet to re­veal what model of cars those will be, how many they will run, or who aside from him­self will drive them. “For size, I still be­lieve the S1 is the best for ral­ly­cross, they are short and the bumpers are round so you can race su­per tight, but what cars ac­tu­ally do turn up I think you will see when we get to the first test in Lo­heac.

“I re­ally hope that our new ba­bies will be com­pet­i­tive so we can at least go to ev­ery race week­end with the hope that we can win. There will be min­i­mum two [cars] and the max­i­mum num­ber we don’t know. There’s no secret that EKS and Audi love win­ning so we are work­ing on find­ing the best pos­si­ble driv­ers. We have a lot of op­tions.”

Pho­tos: World Ral­lyx, An­dros Tro­phy, Hal Ridge

For­mer champ Ekstrom will have a new Audi Ekstrom will go full-time in World

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