For Mattias Ekström, the EKS team is a labour of love. With friends and partners, he built up his rallycross team from scratch. The visit to the Audi factory in Brussels was a trip down memory lane. 

 

The reigning rallycross world champion took the opportunity to visit Brussels during the fifth round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship in Mettet, a distance of about 100 km between the two locations. This was done on good merit. In the Belgian capital, the first version of his 560-hp-strong Audi S1 EKS RX quattro first saw the light of day in 2014. This was not the first S1 with which Audi was involved with in a world championship. Never to be forgotten will be the spectacular performances of Stig Blomqvist, Hannu Mikkola, Michèle Mouton and Walter Röhrl in the Audi Sport quattro S1 E2.

Why was the S1 chosen for rallycross, rather than the more powerful S3 or another model? “The reason is simple,” says Ekström. “The Audi S1 is the perfect basis for a rallycross car. It is very low, relatively wide, has a short wheelbase and a short overhang at the rear. And not to mention the fact that the car is great to drive with quattro drive.” The results on track prove Ekström right. In 2016, the Swede won the drivers’ world title and celebrated the teams’ title with EKS.

 

During the visit in Brussels, it was not only congratulations from the Audi employees for this achievement. For Ekström there was also a reason to tip his hat: The first Audi A1 rolled off of the production line in Brussels seven years ago. At that time, Ekström’s rallycross project was not even a dream yet. Only at the end of 2013 was the idea planted in the Audi factory driver’s mind. This is when things began happening very fast and also thanks to Audi Belgium. “Working together with them turned out fantastically,” says Ekström. “To this day, I am still very grateful.” 

As a token of their appreciation to Ekström, Audi Belgian gave the 38-year-old an Audi S1 to use during the rallycross race weekend in Mettet, with which he personally could travel to and from Circuit Jules Tacheny. “The Audi S1 is truly a great car. I really don’t know why it has taken me so long to get behind the wheel of the road car version. The car is so small and has a lot of fun hidden under its bonnet. The fun factor of the S1 is not only limited to driving around in a city.” 

As his daily driver, family man Ekström uses an Audi SQ7. “For the many trips to the airport at Munich, to Audi Motorsport in Neuburg and for everything I do with my family, this car is simply the best choice for me,” says Ekström. “Friends, children, dogs or luggage, everything fits perfectly.” The drive with the Audi S1 in Belgium will most certainly not be his last. This is certain when Ekström talks about his experiences behind the wheel, whilst his typical mischievous smile is clear for all to see.