Longstanding Audi factory driver Mattias Ekström founded EKS in early 2014, subsequently leading the squad to the top of the world’s standings with great personal commitment within the space of only three years. In the 2016 season, Ekström and EKS in the all-wheel-drive Audi S1 EKS RX quattro won both the drivers’ and the teams’ world championships against strong competitors from Ford, Peugeot, Volkswagen and numerous privateer teams. “We realized that it was becoming increasingly difficult for EKS to stand its ground against the factory teams, so we decided to intensify our commitment in the World RX,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass.
Thanks to factory help from AUDI AG, the EKS project can continue. For Mattias Ekström, this means that his commitment has paid off: “We laid a lot of groundwork as a team in the first three years, gathered important experiences and set new standards with EKS. At the same time, it was clear to us that we’d need support for the future in order to be able to continue on this level. That Audi is now providing factory support to EKS makes me very happy. I’m convinced that rallycross has a great future, also with respect to potential electrification.”
For Audi, entering the World RX with a factory commitment means breaking new ground. Although EKS was able to draw on support from Audi Sport’s suppliers and partners in the past three years, the further technical development of the 560-HP Audi S1 EKS RX quattro will now take place in collaboration with Audi’s motorsport department. Audi employees will be at the race tracks at all twelve World RX rounds to support the work of EKS, while the team will continue to independently run its racing commitments.
Winning the two world championship titles last year was very special for Audi Sport as well because besides Formula 1, the World Rally Championship (WRC), the World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) the World Rallycross Championship (World RX) is only one of five FIA world championships. Most recently, in 2012 and 2013, the Audi driver teams in the WEC were able to celebrate victories in the drivers’ championship. The last title won by an individual Audi campaigner dates back more than 30 years. In 1984, Ekström’s compatriot Stig Blomqvist won the World Rally Championship. “Stig clinched the title with quattro drive, in the WEC the Audi R18 e-tron quattro was successful and last year I was able to contribute a chapter to this tremendous success story in my Audi S1 EKS RX quattro,” says Ekström. As the reigning rallycross world champions in the drivers’ and teams’ classifications, EKS has the clear aim this year: winning the title again together with Audi.
In parallel to the factory commitment in the FIA World Rallycross Championship, Ekström remains with Audi as a DTM driver. The Swede has extended his driver contract and is tackling his 17th DTM season in 2017. “I have good prospects in the DTM and would like to become champion for the third time,” says the 2004 and 2007 DTM Champion.