Audi factory driver wins teams’ classification with his privateer team EKS
Second World Championship title crowns an extraordinary year for Ekström
Mattias Ekström: “We extracted the maximum”
Mattias Ekström and his privateer rallycross team EKS are World Champions in the FIA World Rallycross Championship. After the Swede had wrapped up the drivers’ title at the penultimate round of the season, EKS triumphed at the season finale in Rosario, Argentina.
“I’m lost for words – and this is a rare occurrence,” said Ekström at the end of a dramatic weekend in Argentina. “This title means a huge amount to the team and me. It shows that we all did an excellent job, and not just this year. When we started EKS three years ago, there was nothing at all. Now we are driver and team World Champions and I’ll remember a great many moments forever.”
Led by Ekström and his teammate Toomas ‘Topi’ Heikkinen, the team celebrated the title exuberantly in Rosario. “We extracted the maximum and also beat the Peugeot and Ford factory teams,” said the Swede. “The 2017 World Rallycross Championship will certainly be even tougher. The competition never sleeps, but I love challenges and I’ll be happy to try and defend both titles.”
EKS started the season finale with a 17 point lead over Team Peugeot Hansen. Where a series of startling events unfolded: after torrential rain a heat had to be moved from Saturday to Sunday. Ekström and Heikkinen were, however, left unfazed by the weather and finished the heats in third and ninth.
As a result, they scored enough points to beat the competition around nine-time Rally World Champion Sébastien Loeb and to celebrate the title before the final races. After a dramatic semi-final, Heikkinen took third in the final and celebrated his third podium this year.
Ekström was fifth in the season’s closing event. In the overall standings, the lead was 35 points in the end. Ekström’s Audi DTM teammate Timo Scheider was fourth in the Seat Ibiza entered by Muennich Motorsport.
In Argentina, EKS finished a season that the team from Sweden had dominated since day one. The team headed the overall standings since the season opener in Portugal and were never headed on the way to winning the title 225 days later.
Ekström and Heikkinen together won 44 of their 131 races. Ekström mounted the top step of the podium four times during the season, more often that any other driver in the 2016 World Rallycross Championship. EKS celebrated five other podium finishes in the twelve events in Europe, Canada and Argentina – highlight was the one-two in the event supporting the DTM at Hockenheim.
Ekström travels back to Europe immediately after the ceremonies in South America. The Swedish double World Champion participates in the next DTM test this coming week at Jerez de la Frontera. From Spain, the 38-year old then travels on Thursday to the ARD-Morgenmagazin in Cologne.
“I’ll set the alarm clock for this,” says Ekström with a smile. “I don’t want to miss the appointment like two of my DTM colleagues did this year.” The journey continues on the same day to the FIA awards in Vienna. In the Austrian capital, a dream will become reality for Ekström. “Ever since I’ve been a racing driver it was my greatest dream to be at this ceremony and to appear on stage alongside other World Champions like Sébastien Ogier and Nico Rosberg. It’ll be a unique experience.”