The DTM season opener at Hockenheim was very unique for Mattias Ekström: As was the case one year earlier, the Swede not only drove his Audi RS 5 DTM, but also his Audi S1 EKS RX quattro in the third round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship.

96 laps of racing, eight races and a very big trophy: This sums up Mattias Ekström’s packed motorsport weekend at the Hockenheimring. In addition to all of the races, there were free practice and qualifying sessions, countless meetings, many fan opportunities and, and, and … a crazy day in the life of a race driver. And what does the Swede have to say about it? “To be honest, it was not that much more stressful than a normal DTM race weekend, because I was allowed to skip some of the regular meetings,” said the 38-year-old as he summarised the weekend with a grin.

Looking back at 2016: Ekström experienced this double duty of two different race series during the same weekend for the first time at the Hockenheimring last year. In the FIA World Rallycross Championship at the “home round” of Audi, he and teammate Toomas Heikkinen achieved a 1-2 victory. And what happened in 2017? Ekström did it again by taking the top step on the podium once more. 

 

Thereafter, things became really stressful. After the podium ceremony, only twenty minutes stood between Ekström and the beginning of the second DTM qualifying session. Straight to the podium, trophy, champagne shower, off the podium. Face down, back up on the e-bike, race to the DTM garage, out of the wet race suit, a moment to breath, a quick sip, get into a fresh race suit and immediately back on track for the race against the clock in DTM qualifying. 

The success and enjoyment makes the monumental effort bearable. “To win in front of so many DTM and rallycross fans at Hockenheim is an indescribable feeling,” commented Ekström with a very big smile on his face at the end of the day. Whilst he had a positive ending with this EKS team and had every reason to be happy, Ekström however did not meet his expectations in the DTM at the season opener: “It was unfortunately not so great in the DTM. I am quite satisfied with my time behind the wheel, but in the end, we did not achieve the results that could have been possible. So, I am a bit disappointed.”

Positions five and eleven were written in the history books. Above all else, the fantastic comeback drive in the first race astonished the fans, both on site and at home on the television broadcast. The two-time DTM champion came from seventeenth on the grid to finish fifth. Ekström did not celebrate, because he was sure that if the race was two laps longer, he could have stood on the podium. Victories, trophies and titles, these things are seemingly all that drives the forever-young racer from Falun. The goals for 2017 are ambitious, despite or actually because of dancing on two stages: The titles in both the DTM and in the FIA World Rallycross Championship. Only victory counts. That is the way for Ekström.